In this last blog in the series of the history of Birgu, Carole Pietrazk talks about Birgu after WW2 and her personal experiences of residing in Birgu.
After Word war II Birgu lost its prestige and moral fibre and became deserted as the inhabitants who had fled during the war did not come back. The destruction of the richest and most powerful of the three cities probably had a strong symbolic meaning and may also explain why it was so painful for its dwellers to lick their wounds and to consider settling there again. Most of the town had been destroyed and reconstruction took some time. The Birgu Clock Tower probably dating back to the Middle Ages, located in Victory Square and the landmark in Birgu did not resist the assailant, and neither did the Auberge d’Allemagne. Even the Collegiate St Lawrence’s dome was destroyed and the new one was inaugurated in 1954. By 1957, the population slightly increased. The city’s population fell in the following four censuses, and in 2005 was recorded as 2,701. By 2011 the estimated value had risen slightly to 2,758. In March 2013 the population stood at 2,673 and it was slightly lower in March 2014, when it stood at 2,629.
- ↑ "Census of population and housing 2005"(PDF). Malta National Statistics Office. 2007. p. 51.
- ↑ "Estimated Population by Locality"(PDF). Malta Government Gazette. 31 March 2013. Retrieved 23 January 2015.
- ↑ "Estimated Population by Locality 31st March, 2014". Government of Malta. 16 May 2014. Archived from the originalon 21 June 2015.
Birgu local council was established by the Local Council Acts of 1993.
The first election was held on 19 February 1994 and John Boxall was elected as mayor. In 1995 Joseph C. Azzopardi took over but in the 1998 local elections John Boxall became the mayor again and has remained at the head of the local government so far. The length of his mandate has enabled him to set up and monitor quite a number of projects and events, the most famous and popular one being the Birgu Fest taking place on the first weekend of October. Birgu is then lit up by candlelight only and turns into a magical and romantic venue attracting the whole island. I was lucky enough to experience Birgu Fest last October and was impressed by the way the inhabitants engage in decorating their houses with elegance and grace, setting the candles in an elaborate and harmonious way, which contribute to highlight the historic value of the city. Strolling in the streets, I had the opportunity to talk to some residents and could feel the pride and honour in being part of this event.
Inclusiveness and sense of belonging also ensure the success and sustainability of the event as watching around me I could notice people from a wide range of ages, walking, listening to the music, sharing food from the numerous stalls or simply sitting, chatting, having a good time.
Unity of the community prevails and this event probably sustains the social link I could measure during my nine-month stay in Birgu.
Neighbours always greeted me in the morning, offered their help when I had big luggage to carry, made me feel very safe and secure even though I was on my own. I appreciated these kind attentions, which little by little made me part of the Birgu community as well. I will definitely keep in touch with the people I have become friends with and will keep wonderful memories of this protected yet lively Maltese city. My wish is a message for the young generations to keep it as it is, not to develop it more so as to perpetuate the legacy of heritage for a liveable environment.
The next set of 3 blogs will be by Francisco Balbi di Corregio who was a Spanish mercenary who fought during the great Siege. In the City of Humanity website we have already seen several excerpts from Balbi’s diary. In the next 3 articles Balbi describes Malta and the preparations on both sides for one of the fiercest sieges in history.