Mistra Gate, St Paul’s Bay

October 6, 2011

This Gate is set back along the main arterial road from St Paul’s Bay to Mellieha. It was the principal gateway to an estate set up in 1607 by Grand Master de Wignacourt to collect money for the ransom of slaves, through a Foundation known as the ‘Monte di Redenzione degli Schiavi’, said to have been inspired by a Lenten sermon preached by Father Rafel Camilleri, a Capuchin monk.

The Gate was erected in 1760 during the time of Grand Master Pinto. The Foundation’s coat of arms consists of three hills surmounted by the letter “R” for Redenzione. Above this appears the coat of arms of Grand Master Pinto and on the side there are another two coat of arms which were so badly deteriorated that they could only be identified from old photographs. These belong to Bali’ Claudius de Montagne de Lafeuliere and Bali’ Carlo Maria Olgiati.

On Napoleon’s arrival in Malta in 1798, the funds were transferred to the State, and the land became government property. The Gate was restored in 1937 but since then it had suffered great deterioration. Between 1995 and 1996 a condition survey was prepared by the 4-year students of the Faculty of Architecture and Civil Engineering at the University of Malta under the guidance of Architect Dr David Mallia, a Council member of Din l-Art Helwa.

As the Gateway fa├žade was inclined outwards, it was decided to dismantle the Gate. This revealed, due to the presence of cement mortar on the inside of the lower courses, that the 1937 restoration involved the total rebuilding of the Gateway. The archway on the right of the Gate was rebuilt using the original stone while the wall on the left was left untouched. The wall at the back of the Gate was rebuilt using limestone and reinforced with a thin layer of bricks. The wooden door and beams were also replaced. The restoration was completed in 1998.

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