Floriana, Valletta’s suburb, is full of public gardens and memorials. The main memorials are assembled along the main route – Floriana’s St Anne Street – and before Valletta’s entrance area.
As you pass by Porte des Bombes on your right you will find the Dante Alighieri memorial. This was erected on the initiative of the Società Dante Alighieri. The monument is based on the winning design of Vincent Apap. It shows this Italian poet standing on rocks while in deep meditations. The pedestal is a rarity as it consists of 3 roughly cut boulders, symbolising Paradiso (paradise) Purgatorio (purgatory) and L’ Infermo (hell) the three ‘divisions’ of Dante Alighieri’s greatest literacy work – La Divina Comedia.
A few meters away along the same street, there is the Manoel de Vilhena Memorial. This monument was originally placed in the ‘Piazza d’Armi’ of Fort Manoel on Manoel Island. The monument was erected on the initiative of Fra Felician de Mont Savasse, a knight of the Order of St John. The figure was cast in bronze in the Order’s foundry by Aloisio Bouchut. The monument was relocated first in Valletta in ‘Piazza Tesoreria’ and later at the entrance of the Maglio Gardens. In 1989 it was relocated again to its present location in Pope John XXIII Square to make way for the Independence Monument.
At the end of St Anne Street there is the War Memorial. It was erected according to the design of Louis Naudi. This square-faced obelisk was constructed in Maltese lower globigerina limestone. At the bottom there are 4 commemorative plaques. The obelisk is a good example of British pre-war military and colonial art.
The Air Force Memorial is found at the left of the War Memorial. It consists of a column which is topped with a gilded eagle. At the bottom of this monument, there are circular plaques bearing the names of the fallen Air Forces heroes. It was designed by Charles Wheeler and Hubert Worthington. This monument is reminiscent of the pro-Anglican post war period. It is worthwhile to mention that every year wreath laying ceremonies takes places in front of these two memorials, in the presence of the President of the Republic, the Prime Minister and other dignitaries.
Next to this monument there is the Christ the King Memorial. Designed by Antonio Sciortino to mark the beginning of the 20th century, the 1900 Holy Year dedicated to Christ the Redeemer and the Eucharistic Congress of 1913. This congress was held in Malta. The bronze works were cast in the Rome Buongirolami foundry. The central figure represents Christ in a moving pose while the other figure represents Malta, in a veneration act. In former times this monument was the starting point of pilgrimages which used to end at St John’s Co-Cathedral.
In front of the Maglio Gardens’ entrance there is the Independence Memorial. It was erected in 1989 showing a female figure representing Malta being unwrapped from a big, long bandage.