This building was built during Grand Master Vilhena’s reign and was later established by Alexander Ball as administrative offices for the control of grain imported into Malta. This building was subsequently turned into barracks for army officers in 1826. During the last war General Montgomery prepared his plans for the invasion of Sicily, and eventually was named Montgomery House in his honor, and it was in this building that Winston Churchill and the President Roosevelt met towards the end of January 1945 before leaving for their meeting with Stalin at Yalta in February, 1945. The first bomb on Floriana hit this building on the 4th May 1941 causing serious damage. Since 1982 this building houses the offices of the Middle Sea Insurance and since then it has been re-named Middle Sea House.
This is a baroque fountain topped by a lion. The lion was part of the coat of arms of Grand Master Vilhena and is now the sole figure of Floriana’s coat of arms. It has “guarded” the town since 1728. The inscriptions in Latin found on the bottom part of this fountain say “To the increasing population of this suburb, Grand Master Don Anton Manoel De Vilhena, who holds the inhabitants so close to his heart, decreed that this Fountain is erected – 1728”. During wartime, the Lion was encased in stone and placed for protection beneath the first arcade in St. Anne Street. Later on, it was kept for preservation by Mr E. Falzon at his Express Garage in St. Anne Square. The fountain was reconstructed in 1958 and the lion put in place during the night of 31st December 1958/1st January 1959.
The King George V Recreational Grounds were Malta’s first Playing Fields.
With the advent of the Malta Playing Fields Association in 1951, these grounds were taken over by this new foundation. A small building to house the association’s headquarters was erected at the same grounds. In following years, the Malta Playing Fields Association continued to provide playing equipment to these grounds, until local government was introduced in Malta in 1993. Since then, the Floriana Local Council is responsible for its upkeep. On 21st February 2008, the grounds were devolved to the Local Council, which carried out embellishment projects of the grounds’ facilities, including the tennis court and the football pitch.
The Independence Monument in front of The Mall gardens, was erected at this site, previously held by that of Grand Master Vilhena, to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of Malta’s Independence from the United Kingdom. This monument was modelled by Maltese sculptor John Bonnici, and it is the work of the Italian Foundry Badalotti. The monument was inaugurated on the 23rd September 1989 by President Dr. Censu Tabone.
Granaries are pits dug into the ground and covered by circular stone slabs. They were primarily used for the storage of Grain. Granaries can be found throughout Valletta and Floriana. The first granaries were built by the Knights to provide for storage within the fortifications in case of a siege. As the system of storage was reliable and efficient, the British authorities copied in all details the Knights’ granaries. The Granaries proved their worth as they continued to provide grain for the starving population during World War 2. The highest grouping of granaries (a total of 76) is found here.
‘Il-Fosos’ or The Granaries and now officially named Pjazza San Publiju, is also one of the largest urban open spaces in Malta and is therefore use for mass gatherings. One important gathering was held in May 1990 during the Pope John Paul II visit to Malta. During the second Papal visit on 9th May 2001, the Pope beatified three Maltese in this square, one of whom was eventually canonised (St Gorg Preca). As Malta is a predominantly Catholic country, this is considered to be an important event in Malta’s history. A third papal visit took place on 18th April 2010 by Pope Benedict XVI. The Isle of MTV summer festival is among other major events held here.
Grand Master de Verdalle proposed to the bishop to invite the Capuchin Order to open a convent in Malta. The first Capuchins set foot in Malta on 10 February 1588. The marble inscriptions on the church façade are quite informative. According to the rules of this Order, their churches and convents had to be built as far away as possible from populated areas so as to maintain the hermitage spirit practiced by the Friars. GM de Verdalle donated this area as it satisfi ed this rule at that time.
The Maltese engineer Girolamo Cassar designed both church and convent. The church is dedicated to the Holy Cross, however, it is popularly known as the Capuchins Church. All the altars in the church are made of wood. The two statues on the façade of the church are those of St Paul and St Publius.
The plan of the Argotti gardens was drawn and formed on St James Bastion in 1720 by the Portuguese Knight Manoel Pinto de Fonseca who was elected Grandmaster of the Order in 1741. It was then that a Spanish knight, Ignatius de Argote et Gusman – from whom the name Argotti is derived – embellished them considerably and also built his palace which is still preserved to this day and a Mc barium which houses a rich collection of dried plants. The house was built with a low profile for defence purposes.
Many eminent Maltese Botanists were responsible for the Argotti during the 19th Century but it was in 1890 under Dr. Francesco Debono (Director) that these gardens became known as the Argotti Botanic Gardens. These Botanic Gardens, with their rich collection of a large variety of trees, and herbal shrubs and succulents are also a source of knowledge for students in their Botanic studies. Some of the trees go back to the time of the Knights.
The Royal Malta Artillery and King’s Own Malta Regiment Memorials are also in the vicinity of the War Memorial, in its right hand side just across the road. The War Memorial is an Obelisk in the form of a Latin cross originally erected in memory of the dead of the First World War but now revered also as a memorial to the dead of both world wars. This monument was inaugurated by Governor Sir Charles Bonham Carter in 1938. The four plaques adorning this monument are the Maltese Flag with the George Cross, a scroll by President Roosevelt, another by King George VI praising Malta’s sacrifices in the Second World War, and another by King George V who praised Malta for its role in the First World War.
Floriana Local Council
15, Plazza Emanuel S. Tonna,
Malta FRN 1483