If you’re enjoying coffee and some people-watching at Caffe Cordina, you will find your eyes continuously wandering back to the imposing statue that lies in the centre of Republic Square, its back to the National Library of Malta.
Queen Victoria was certainly not known for her jolly disposition, and this statue conveys the full import of the sovereign’s stature to an uncanny degree. However, the flocks of pigeons that gather around the statue are quite undeterred by the monarch’s stony glance, and have made the square their hunting ground as they eagerly await titbits to be handed to them by the snacking locals.
The statue was commissioned to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee in 1887 and is the work of Sicilian sculptor Giuseppe Valenti. Incidentally, this is the same artist who created the St Publius statue housed at the Mdina cathedral.
Queen Victoria Monument – her Maltese legacy
Look closely at the Queen Victoria monument and you will notice that the craftsmanship is nothing short of spectacular. Sculpted out of white marble and mounted on stone stairs, it is positioned right in the centre of the portico leading to the National Library. The stairs include the British and the Maltese coat of arms cast in bronze.
Unfortunately, the presence of the afore-mentioned pigeons makes it incredibly difficult to constantly maintain this monument in the resplendent state the marble deserves. Clean up efforts are continuous, but not necessarily always entirely successful.
The queen is depicted wearing a shawl of Maltese lace, a reference to her love for the craft and her attempts to support and revive it. For years, the square where the statue is located was called Pjazza Regina – Queen’s Square – until it was re-baptised Republic Square. However, many locals will still give you a funny look if you ask for Republic Square, and the name Pjazza Regina remains strong in the public consciousness.