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Floriana Grand Harbour Fortifications


The Floriana fortifications are indicated as being within an Area of High Landscape Value, they are also located in the Urban Conservation Area of Floriana. The Floriana lines were conceived in order to provide further protection to the Valletta land front fortifications. They were designed by the Italian engineer Pietro Paolo Floriani during the Magistracy of Grand Master Antoine de Paule (1622-36). The main line of defence consists of one large bastion and two demi-bastions. A fausse-brye is projected beyond the two large revelins and is itself protected by four lunettes. The hornworks and crownworks did not feature on Floriani’s original design but were added by the Italian military engineer Antonio Maurizio Valperga later on the century. The only major addition to Floriani’s original plan was the construction of the ‘Gladiana’, the crowned-hornworks. The outerwork, when it was eventually completed, was criticised for being too small a structure to hold the men that were necessary for its defence. Valperga also designed the retrenchment that was built within the San Salvatore demi-bastion as a solution to its bad design. Afterwards the Order secured the services of De Tigne and Mondion, who pointed out that Floriana’s weakest point lay in the flanks. The engineers proposed the construction of rentrenchments within these fortifications. The British period witnessed no major alterations to the fortified enceinte other than the partial demolition of Notre Dame Gate, the enlargement of Porta dei Canoni and the addition of various magazines and traverses. The Floriana land front retains the best preserved example of an extensive system of outer works, with advanced ditch, lunettes, scarp musketry gallery covertway and countermined galcis that has survived to date. Significant losses to the covertway and glacis were inflicted around the 1970’s to accommodate large storage tanks overlooking Marsa. The Porte des Bombe lunette also disappeared beneath the main road in the course of the early 20th century.


The deterioration processes experienced by the Floriana fortifications are the result of a number of factors, such as, exposure and orientation, salt contamination (sea spray, rising damp, nitrates and incompatible materials) biological attack, material properties of the stone, neglect, lack of maintenance, human intervention, structural defects, installation of superfluous accretions and pollution caused by the burning of fossil fuels. The various causes of deterioration have given rise to loss of pointing, deterioration of mortars and masonry, old repairs, later and contemporary additions, mechanical damage and loss of structural integrity, soiling, graffiti and biological infestation. Given the importance of the building, a complete documentation has been carried out. Scaled drawings of these fortifications have been drawn up from rectified photography and levels established. The intervention on the Floriana fortifications is focusing on the restoration of the faces, superior slopes and platform terraces. The works include the restoration of deteriorated masonry fabric, removal of cement –based renders and pointing, stabilisation of detached masonry facings, cleaning, and reinstatement and reconstruction of missing or deteriorated sections of the limestone fabric. ​