The inaugural meeting of Din l-Art Ħelwa was held at the Manoel Theatre in Valletta on 9 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 Ħelwa 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 Ħelwa has saved, or helped to save, for the nation over the years would have been lost if Din l-Art Ħelwa had not physically intervened to save them. You will find an up-to-date list in the ‘Properties’ section of this website.
On 21 February 2003 the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage transferred nine properties to Din l-Art Ħelwa 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 Ħelwa, 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 Ħelwa.
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 Ħelwa 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.
Din l-Art Ħelwa was one of the first eight members to have joined Europa Nostra in its early years in 1967. Din l-Art Ħelwa has now built contacts with many international organisations with similar aims, besides being in continual contact with Malta`s environmental NGOs.
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.”