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100 years of Maltese aviation marked at Notre Dame Gate

The Notre Dame Gate, which housed wounded troops in WWI, has survived intact and has architectural features not found anywhere else in Malta. Photos: Jonathan Borg and Chris Sant Fournier

The Notre Dame Gate, which housed wounded troops in WWI, has survived intact and has architectural features not found anywhere else in Malta. Photos: Jonathan Borg and Chris Sant Fournier

A century after wounded troops were cared for at the Notre Dame Gate when there was no space left in hospital, the grand baroque building is hosting an exhibition that recounts 100 years of aviation in Malta.

Called Malta – the Dangerous Years, the art exhibition by painter Raymond Dominic Agius forms part of an event that is being held by Fondazzjoni Wirt Artna at the Notre Dame Gate in Vittoriosa.

The Heritage and History Fair, between today and Sunday, will serve as a platform for people with a keen interest in history – including naval and military heritage – to meet, discuss and share ideas.

It will feature a book fair, an art exhibition charting the first 100 years of aviation history in Malta, public lectures, guided tours of Notre Dame Gate, scale modelling of historic figures, historical re-enactment stands and hands-on sessions covering historic themes. FWA wants the fair to become an annual event.

The book event is being held in the Cotoner Hall within the gate, which serves as FWA’s headquarters but was built in 1675 by the Order of St John as part of the Cottonera Lines.

The fair will serve as a platform for people with a keen interest in history – naval and military included

The building has survived intact and includes some architectural features that are not found anywhere else in Malta.

It consists of four large bombproof casemates standing on each other and crowned by a large portcullis gatehouse. The building has a rich and colourful history which spans some 400 years and includes the Hospitaller, French and British periods.

Following the debacle at Gallipoli in 1915, thousands of wounded Allied troops were brought to Malta for treatment and convalescence. Some of them were accommodated at the nearby Cottonera Hospital, built in 1870, and at Notre Dame Gate when no space was left in the hospital.

Organised by FWA, partly sponsored by the Malta Tourism Authority and with the participation of Heritage Malta, the National Archives, Companigia San Michele and the Malta Society of Model Makers, the event is being held today and tomorrow between 3pm and 9pm, and on Saturday and Sunday from 10am till 9pm.

Dr William Zammit, author of Kissing the Gallows, will deliver today’s lecture at 6.30pm. Tomorrow’s lecture, held at the same time, will be by Prof. Keith Sciberras and will discuss ‘Nicholas Cotoner as Patron of the Arts’. On Saturday at 10.30am, Liam Gauci will speak about ‘A Russian Knight, a Maltese Corsair and a Fallen Patriot’, while the following day at 10.30am, a talk by Richard J Caruana will be about ‘Faith, Hope and Charity – The Legend Revisited’.

Entrance is free. Those who want to book a seat for the lectures are asked to send an e-mail message to [email protected].

The book event is being held in the Cotoner Hall within the gate, built in 1675.The book event is being held in the Cotoner Hall within the gate, built in 1675.

An art exhibition by painter Raymond Dominic Agius forms part of the Heritage and History Fair.An art exhibition by painter Raymond Dominic Agius forms part of the Heritage and History Fair.

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