Vittoriosa Historical & Cultural Society


The Historical and Cultural Society was founded in 1954, at a time when Vittoriosa was still struggling to gain back its normal city life, abruptly disturbed by the war some years earlier.  Most of the buildings still showed the ravages of the air raids.  As the reconstruction progressed, it became apparent that the historical character of the city and the quaint street layout was being insensitively ignored by the planners; new flat solid blocks of houses were interposed among old structures.  Ancient historical palaces which survived were being pulled down allegedly for better planning. 

One example of an irretrievable loss was the capricious demolition of the Siculo Norman Belfry that formed part of the Church of the Annunciation.  While the church and the Domenican convent were indeed destroyed, the belfry survived the bombing intact.   Nonetheless, despite the strong protests and press campaign for its preservation by the Society and the public, the planners proceeded to raze it to the ground on the pretext of road-widening. 
It was against this background that the Society was born. The Society’s founders sought to heighten the pride of the people of Birgu in their city and to make a concerted appeal to the authorities for a better understanding and appreciation of the city’s unique history.  Over the years, various appeals and suggestions were made by the Society to the government of the day for urgent restoration and repair works.
In most cases the Society’s pleas were given a symathatic response, one noticeable example being the rehabilitation of the Inquistor’s Palace and its inauguration as a museum in 1981.  Another important initiative of the Society, undertaken with the full cooperation of the Collegiate Church of St Lawrence, was the opening of the Vittoriosa Museum in 1990, housed in the Oratory of St Joseph.  In this project the Society found the magnanimous support of the late German Ambassador, HE Godfried Pagenstet, who became enamoured to the city’s historic traditions.  Indeed at one point, in collaboration with the Society, he staged the German Republic Day festivities at Vittoriosa Square adjacent to the site of the former Auberge d’Allemagne.
One of the Society’s early ideals, which has sadly never materialized, was the rebuilding of the old Clock Tower in Vittoriosa Square, a major landmark of the city.  It received a direct hit during the war which sliced it in two.  The heap of stone was left on site for a long time after the war in the hope that the tower would be put back in place but this never happened and the stones were carted away.   Over the years the Society made repeated requests to the government for its reconstruction. 
During 2004 the Society marked its 50th Anniversary by special events.