By Maria Pace – Malta Today
Is-Suq Tal-Belt has officially opened today in the run-up to Valletta 2018 after a private investment of €14 million
Built in the 1860s, Valletta’s covered market, affectionately called Is-Suq tal-Belt, had been restored to its former glory and is now officially open as a hub of culinary and culture activity.
The Arkadia Group invested €14 million to restore and renovate the market after it was granted a 65-year-long lease by Parliament, that unanimously approved the project in 2016.
The project to transform the building in Merchants Street was part of the regeneration in the run-up to Valletta European capital of culture 2018.
The market’s concept is ‘Cook. Eat. Relax’ and features three floors and will be open seven days a week.
The underground floor will consist of a market, mainly focusing on food, while the food courts and food tasting kiosks occupy the ground floor. The upper level will host a cafeteria, and will be used for cultural events, and will be open later on in February.
The market features food and drink from around the world. In the promotional video posted on Facebook, one could see sushi, kebab, Spanish paella, amongst other food offered at the market. Drinks like foreign beer and sangria are also available.
Professor Marco Casamonti was the architect behind the market’s design. His signature marks one of the most successful food markets in Florence, the San Lorenzo Market.
The project is expected to provide employment for 250 people.
The market was commissioned by Governor John Gaspard Le Marchant in 1858 while Malta was under British rule. The building was designed by Hector Zimelli, the superintendent of public works at the time, to house the open air market which took place by the Grand Master’s Palace. The original building featured 153 stalls, 65 cellars, and a central skylight.
The market was bombed during World War II and suffered significant damage. It was redesigned as a shopping centre in 1983, before succumbing to disuse once again.