St Philip Garden

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St Philip Garden

Named after St Philip’s bastion on which it stands, St Philip Gardens (Ġnien San Filippu) are located right below the Argotti Gardens. A ramp leads down to the lower gardens of St Philip. The ramp was constructed for a proposed external Floriana railway station which was never built.

Halfway down the ramp you will walk through an arched gate. Do notice the raised door in the ceiling which used to be operated by chained pulleys which are still visible. When closed, this door could only be raised from inside the fortifications.

Walk further down to the end of the ramp towards a door which led to the platform at the underground station. Though there is a steep flight of steps, a visit to the upper level of the garden is worth it.

At the far end of the garden, from a terrace on the ramparts, you can view the Portes des Bombes area which was the only entrance to the outer fortifications of Valletta. The train tunnel emerged at ground level exactly below this terrace.

From here you can also view the entrance to the last short section of tunnel through the ramparts called the Fausse Braye, the outer defences in olden times.

The garden is pleasant with wide paved passages and rich in citrus fruit trees, cypress, jacarandas and decorative plants. Rose bushes and other flowers bloom below the bastion walls.

In the centre, a tall ornate fountain also built by Grand Master Alof de Wignacourt, was originally located in St George’s Square (Misra˙San Ġorġ) in Valletta until the early nineteenth century. The fountain was moved by the British military authorities to St Philip Garden so that Valletta’s main square could be used for military parades. This fountain, which is rather deteriorating, is scheduled as a national monument.

It features a large circular basin with three superimposed upper basins shaped like seashells, each one smaller than the one below, supported on a cone-shaped pedestal with four dolphins with upturned tails. This was the first fountain erected after the building of the Wignacourt aqueduct from Mdina and was inaugurated on 21st April 1615.

Source: Din L-Art Helwa