Gnien Laparelli – Valletta Landfront Ditch Garden
Beautifully restored Valletta Ditch garden has been opened for over a year now and I finally got the change to visit it. This rehabilitation project nicely connects all the work carried out in this area in recent years. Including the new Parliament building, the new image to the Valletta entrance as well as restoration of the Triton Fountain and Tritons Square turning into a pedestrian area.
I have to say, that in the 13 years I’ve been living in Malta, Valletta has changed a lot. And for the better. Entering the capital city is experience in itself. Valletta Ditch garden is nicely finished and is definitely worth a visit. Especially if you’re looking for a quieter place to rest your feet.
Let’s start with some exercise. Yes, there is a lift, but it wasn’t working when we visited. There aren’t actually that many stairs. My rough guess would be about 70 steps. I managed to walk it down and back up carrying a toddler and a pushchair.
On the bright side, if you would take the lift, you would miss this, which I believe is the old entrance to the original Valletta train station. Oh yes, just in case you didn’t know, once upon a time, Malta had a train running between Valletta and Mdina! Sounds unbelieveble? Maybe, but it’s true and soon I’ll show you a proof.
There were few stations on the way, but only two were underground. This one and the next stop in Floriana. They are not open to the public, however you can visit the undreground train station in Floriana on special occasions.
These are the final steps to reach Valletta Ditch garden. If you come with young children I can guarantee that this will be most likely their favourite part. They will be walking up and down, up and down. Forever. And ever.
If you’re facing the stairs like me look right. You’ll see a bridge, which still remembers the train operating from 1883 to 1931. How cool this had to be back then. Imagine now! What a great attraction for tourists and efficient way to commute for locals this could be these days. I really wish that the train service will reopen one day.
And here is the promised proof! Believe it or not, Malta had a train operating for about 50 years. Cutting the commuting time from Valletta to Mdina from 3hrs to less than 30mins! Truly revolutionary back then.
I don’t know about you, but when I was a child I used to love standing under a bridge waiting for the train to pass above me. The noise was somehow frightening and exciting at the same time. And that’s exactly what Oliver was doing. Standing under the bridge waiting for the train to pass…
The Ditch has been embellished with around 50 indigenous trees. But there is one tree that will get your attention straight away. This one! I wouldn’t know the name, but it is definitely one of the most interesting-looking trees I’ve seen on the Maltese Islands.
There are three options how you can enter Gnien Laparelli. If you’re doing the same as me, you’ll be starting the tour of Valletta Ditch garden right in the middle. At this point you can either go right or left, but in both instances you’ll end up in a car park.
There are many seating opportunities. Which is amazing! I would recommend to come early in the day. We visited in the morning and had some nice refreshing shade from the bastions.
Oliver loved all of these modern benches. Climbing them, walking across them or sitting on them while enjoying his snack. I cannot believe how fast he is growing. Independent little man, who wants to eat by himself.
This is one of the other entrances/exits to the Valletta Ditch garden, which is located just underneath Central Bank of Malta. There is a spacious parking area behind me. If you wish, and you’re lucky with the parking, you can leave your car here and enter Gnien Laparelli from here.
The whole Valletta Ditch garden is pedestrian, however there is a ‘road’, which you can see below. You may only drive through if you have a special permit. Therefore there isn’t that much traffic.
All those trees, grass and blooming flowers make walking though Gnien Laparelli truly enjoyable. Yes, it’s not a ‘forest’ that you may be used to from abroad, but this is what we have, taking into consideration our hot Mediterranean climate.
This ditch was excavated during the construction of Valletta’s fortifications as part of the city’s outer defense system in 1566. It also served as a source for the stone blocks that were used to build the City’s fortifications and other buildings.
The rehabilitation of the ditch into a public garden was implemented in 2018. Gnien Laparelli was inaugurated in February 2019. It created another very much needed space for all visitors to enjoy. It’s also a place for many events, such as open-air cinema, especially during the summer months.
The ditch garden is named after Francesco Laparelli, an Italian architect. Laparelli was an assistant of Michelangelo, and later was sent by the Pope to supervise the construction of Valletta in Malta.
Here is Oliver standing under the bridge leading to the Valletta’s main entrance. It makes me smile how small Olly looks standing underneath the limestone bridge.
Now it’s time to explore the other side of Gnien Laparelli starting with these steps. It is not exactly a play ground for children, but Oliver found many stimulating objects – steps, flowers, grass, branches, water features, trees etc. He had fun walking around and exploring, which is the most important thing for a tired parent!
I think I can safely say that walking around the Valletta Ditch garden was fun. If you want you can walk zig-zag enjoying different passages passing through the greenery in the middle.
There were so many different types of blooming flowers. It was amazing. I didn’t take pictures of them all, but they were all indigenous to the Maltese Islands. Which makes sense, but I’ve seen the majority of them for the very first time in Malta.
And here we’re, at the third and last entrance to Gnien Laparelli. Another huge parking space is located right behind me, which is easily accessible from road leading to the Hotel Excelsior.
As always I’m adding the exact location of this awesome and beautifully restored garden. Definitely worth a visit.