Vodafone Foundation helps Heritage Malta preserve Ggantija Temples

Heritage Malta’s Ggantija Temples are offering an enhanced visitor experience thanks to a direct investment of €200,000 by the Vodafone Malta Foundation.  The Vodafone Ggantija Project has consisted of incorporating two new lightweight walkways which will now take visitors straight into the heart of the temples.  The project also includes an interactive digital and virtual tour of Ggantija.  The Temples have also been decked out with an environmental monitoring station which measures exposure to environmental elements and the site has been made safer with the installation of a remote security system. The number of visitors to Ggantija in 2010 reached 142,483 and in the first four months of 2011 Ggantija had the highest visitor numbers for all Heritage Malta sites, amounting to 44,436.

The Walkway

Thanks to the construction of two walkways inside Ggantija, visitors will have full access to the temples. This structure protects the original prehistoric floors whilst providing visitors with better visibility.  A number of interpretation panels are incorporated in the railing design so that one has a better understanding of the prehistoric temples and an appreciation of the complex. The walkway also sports LED lighting for safe movement of visitors as well as to light up the temple structure at night.

Interactive Virtual Tour

Another element which will further enhance the visitors’ experience is the Vodafone Ggantija Interactive DVD-ROM which is a digitised version of the site with impressive 360 degrees photography. Images are accompanied by an audio interpretation where archaeology experts give visitors detailed descriptions and interpretations of each of the areas of this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Unique Heritage Site

Whilst highlighting the importance of this unique heritage site that represents one of the main historical attractions of the island of Gozo, Acting Prime Minister and Minister for Gozo, the Hon. Giovanna Debono, explained that the Vodafone Ggantija Project will continue to strengthen government’s endeavours to restore and conserve Gozo’s rich cultural heritage. Another project which the Ministry for Gozo intends to implement through the ERDF programme relates to a conservation plan and the founding of the Ggantija Archaeological Park that will include an equipped Visitors’ Centre allowing for a collection of prehistoric remains to be permanently exhibited close to where such remains were found. “Our historical heritage has never been given as much attention as it is being given today,” she said as she referred to other projects amongst which the implementation of some of the proposals in the Cittadella Masterplan which will have a direct impact on Heritage Malta’s operations of the museums managed within the Citadel.

Public-Private Partnership

Parliamentary Secretary Mario Demarco said that our heritage is so important that it places on each and every one of us a responsibility towards present and future generations. “This is a responsibility which not only the public sector through Heritage Malta is committed to, but we are today witnessing the private sector’s commitment towards our heritage. Thanks to the Vodafone Foundations’ corporate social responsibility, we are today witnessing the realisation of a project which is to benefit Gozo’s heritage. This demonstrates that public-private partnership can be effective, and that the private sector is committed to contribute towards the restoration, maintenance and embellishment of our cultural heritage.” He further stated that a number of Heritage Malta’s projects are also being realised thanks to EU capital funds. These include the Ggantija Visitor Centre, together with a technical study and landscaping of the same temple area.

Heritage Malta has been reaching out for active synergies with various entities to help in the continuous effort of supervising, preserving, understanding better and ultimately marketing Malta’s historic sites.  The Vodafone Malta Foundation has been a collaborator for a number of years, allocating funds for the conservation of heritage sites and other ventures.

Balesh Sharma, Chief Executive Officer of Vodafone Malta said:  “We understand that the preservation of historic sites such as Ggantija is extremely costly. Vodafone is proud to be a main contributor to Maltese heritage and through our Foundation we make efforts to contribute back to the community we operate in.  We want to make sure that the Maltese and Gozitans benefit from our commercial presence here.”  Since its very beginning the Foundation has donated more than €2 million to local causes across Malta and Gozo.

Isabelle Vella, Vice-Chairman of Heritage Malta thanked the Vodafone Malta Foundation for its constant support and backing throughout the years. “This is clear evidence that public-private partnerships work and our heritage is reaping benefits from such collaboration. We are thankful that the Vodafone Malta Foundation helped us in providing a better experience to the visitors of the Ggantija temples whilst investing in the protection and management of this World Heritage Site.”

Martin Gregory on behalf of the Vodafone Malta Foundation said that this project is one of the most significant investments the Vodafone Malta Foundation has done to date. “We are very proud to have collaborated with Heritage Malta on this UNESCO World Heritage Site,” said Martin Gregory. “The money we donated will ensure the protection and conservation of these magnificent megalithic temples. We are extremely pleased to finally see the projects coming together since the projects we funded will ensure a better and more informative all-round experience for those who will visit these temples. We have also invested to ensure that we protect and conserve these magnificent megalithic temples for future generations,” he concluded.

The Ggantija temples were erected around 3500BC and are reputed to be among the very first free standing structures in the world. It has survived extraordinary well, its walls in places still standing to a height of 7 metres. There are two adjacent temples, the southern one on the left having had part of its wall removed to allow the northern one to be built up against it.

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