Culture
A Maltese Baroque wonder! 1950s shot shows the demolition of bastions at Notre Dame Gate
It dates back to 1675.

Emma Galea

A photo uploaded by Lawrence Marsh to the ‘Old photos of Malta’ social media group depicts the demolition of the side bastion of the might Notre Dame Gate in the early 1950’s.

They had to be demolished after they were severely hit and damaged during one of the many aerial bombardments on Malta during World War II.

Although the bastions were demolished this mighty gate still stands there to this day and has an equally mighty history.

It was built in 1675 in the Baroque style by Grand Master Cotoner as part of the Cottonera Lines project.

Its original name was the Notre Dame de la Grace Gate but it eventually became known as the Zabbar Gate, the Cottonera Gate and Bieb is-Sultan.

Found at the highest point of the Cottonera, the gate stands on four levels and has some amazing views of the surrounding areas.

It was even used to relay signals and messages to the opposite fortifications in Valletta.

The Notre Dame Gate is home to a façade decorated in Corinthian Pilasters as well as bronze bust of Grand Master Cotoner. The bust is the work of Pietro Sances and is regarded to be one of the most prolific bronze works of art in Malta.

Although built in the times of the Knights of St John, the gate continued to be used even during the times of the British here in Malta.

During World War I many soldiers were brought to the gate for recovery and thus the gate also served as a hospital.

Today, the Zabbar Gate is still very much in use as it serves as the official headquarters of the Fondazzjoni Wirt Artna.

7th March 2023


Emma Galea
Written by
Emma Galea
Emma is a Gozitan writer who loves all things related to English literature and history. When not busy studying or writing you will either find her immersed in a fictional book or at the cinema trying to watch as many films as she possibly can!

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