The inaugural meeting of Din l-Art Helwa was held at the Manoel Theatre in Valletta on 9th July 1965. The Times of Malta wrote that the enthusiasm shown by all those who attended was a clear indication of the growing interest in, and the ever increasing concern for our National Heritage. The role of Din l-Art Helwa was clearly laid down, and it remains the same today; to safeguard Malta’s cultural heritage and the natural environment for future generations, which includes the hands-on conservation and restoration of our cultural heritage.
Several of the outstanding historic properties and monuments which Din l-Art Helwa has saved, or helped to save, for the nation over the years would have been lost if Din l-Art Helwa had not physically intervened to save them. You will find an up-to-date list in the ‘Properties’ section of this website.
The mission of Din l-Art Ħelwa is:
- to promote interest in the preservation and protection of historic buildings and monuments, of places of natural beauty and features and the animal and plant life of such places, and of the character of our towns and villages, especially in relation to the problems arising from modern urban development;
- to educate the public in general, especially young people, about the importance of our cultural heritage;
- to stimulate the enforcement of existing lawas and the enactment of new ones for the preservation and protection of our natural, architectural and artistic heritage;
- to lead by example and take on projects of restoration and repair of buildings of historical value which have been neglected or vandalised;
- to hold properties in trust, on loan, lease or management agreement, or other suitable terms, and to ensure the conservation of such property for its enjoyment by the public and for the benefit of the nation;
- to maintain a watchdog role and lobby the authorities for the protection of the landscape and the rich architectural and artistic legacy of the nation.
Funds are raised by membership fees, donations and sponsorships.
On 21st February 2003 the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage transferred nine properties to Din l-Art Helwa through the first Deeds of Guardianship signed under the Cultural Act 2002. These historic buildings were painstakingly restored over many years by Din l-Art Helwa, and include St. Agatha`s Tower (The Red Tower), Wignacourt Tower, Ghallis Tower, Qalet Marku Tower, Torri Mamo, Msida Bastion Garden of Rest, Dwejra Tower (Gozo), Santa Maria Tower, and Santa Maria Battery (both on Comino). Together with the church of Santa Maria ta` Bir Miftuh in Gudja, the Chapel of the Annunciation at Hal Millieri, St. Roque`s chapel in Zebbug, Tal-Hniena chapel in Qrendi, the Delimara Lighthouse in Marsaxlokk and Our Lady of Victory church in Valletta, they form part of the patrimony now held in trust or managed by Din l-Art Helwa.
In 2001 the International Jury Panel of the Europa Nostra Heritage Award Scheme chaired by J. Wynford Evans CBE awarded the Msida Bastion Garden of Rest Restoration Project the highly prestigious Silver Medal, “For the admirable, painstaking recovery, re-assembly and careful restoration of the monuments, headstones and tombs of the Msida Bastion Cemetery and for the conversion of its derelict historic site into a public garden.” Din l-Art Helwa was one of the first eight members to have joined Europa Nostra in its early years in 1967. Din l-Art Helwa has now built contacts with many international organisations with similar aims, besides being in continual contact with Malta`s environmental NGOs.
Ongoing projects are Delimara Lighthouse, Tal-Hniena Church in Qrendi, St. Anthony’s Battery in Qala, and maintenance works on Dwejra Tower, among others. Din l-Art Helwa also manages the il-Majjistral Nature and History Park together with the NGOs Gaia Foundation and Nature Trust, and the Foresta 2000 afforestation site together with Birdlife Malta and the Ministry for Rural Affairs.
The central organisation of Din l-Art Helwa is operated by an Executive Council of nine which includes the Executive President, Vice-President, Hon Treasurer and Hon Secretary General. The Executive Council meets every two weeks. The General Council consists of the Executive Council and 14 other members, and meets every two months. Numerous volunteers and other members of staff are engaged in looking after our properties and carrying out many exciting and varied projects which all contribute towards achieving the aims of the organisation.