A spectacular city deserves a spectacular entrance, and it’s difficult to find a landmark with a more intriguing backstory than the Triton Fountain. Guarding the entrance to the city, the fountain was conceived and created by two artists, Vincent Apap and Victor Anastasi, and is considered one of the most important examples of Modernist architecture in Malta.
The final concept was approved in 1952 following a public call that netted the collaborators the grand prize of 100 Maltese liri, which today would be equivalent to around 232 Euro. Although the base was constructed in Malta, the Tritons themselves were cast at a foundry in Naples and installed on site in 1959.
Sadly, the political uncertainty that besieged the Island at the time meant that the Triton Fountain never got the grand inauguration it deserved. From conception to completion, Malta changed governing bodies no less than three times, and the finished Triton Fountain saw the light of day under colonial rule, when the Maltese government had just resigned..
Throughout its lifetime the Triton Fountain has been through a number of reincarnations, surviving the area being used as bus terminus, becoming the site of various mass events and undergoing a number of restoration attempts – some more successful than others.
Triton Fountain & Renzo Piano
The most recent restoration effort took place in 2015, to coincide with the redesigning of the area by celebrated Italian architect Renzo Piano. The entire Triton Fountain was dismantled and the three main figures sent to a renowned foundry in Florence, and the base undergoing works in Rome. The newly revived structure was inaugurated in 2018, just in time for Valletta to take its place as European Capital of Culture.
The Triton Fountain is now fully visible from City Gate and, since the Renzo Piano redesign, visitors can enjoy uninterrupted vistas of the city entrance with the full fountain in the foreground. A snapshot or a selfie from this vantage point is a must. We recommend the golden hour, when the fiery hues in the sky complement the playful water feature, or the night-time, when the entire fountain is magnificently lit up.
A fun fact that you will not find in any official guidebook – the Triton Fountain was the subject of a bitter feud between Valletta and the suburb of Floriana, with both insisting that the entrance to the city falls under their jurisdiction.
Its specific location, right before the bridge that leads into the city, has always been ‘disputed territory’ and the presence of the prestigious landmark did not help alleviate the tiff. During the Renzo Piano restoration there was talk of the fountain being actually relocated to Floriana, but the idea did not gather popular favour and the three Tritons provide sentry to the capital to this very date.
The feud was officially settled once and for all when Google listed the fountain’s official address being on Nelson Avenue, which forms part of the capital.