Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar will be holding a tour of Valletta on Friday at 7pm.
Vincent Zammit will talk about Fra Manuel Pinto da Fonseca, one of Malta’s most colourful grandmasters, along with his activities and landmark buildings constructed during his reign (1741-1773).
He was elected at the age of 60 as an ‘interim’ grandmaster, as it was thought that he would not live long, paving the way for a younger knight. However, Pinto defied all expectations and occupied the post until his death at the age of 92. This flamboyant character was the first of the grandmasters to adopt the princely crown and was not very popular within the Order of the Knights of St John, as his grandiose building projects bankrupted the Order’s treasury.
However, Pinto loved the city of Valletta, taking a very active part in social life, funding the building of the Manoel Theatre. Other important buildings were constructed or embellished under his magistracy, including the elegant Castellania, the Knights’ Law Courts and the Auberge de Castille, the stateliest and one of the most important buildings in the town.
Although started during the rule of de la Cassiere in 1574, the Auberge de Castille was completed by Pinto, as attested by his bust and arms which adorn its façade. He also enriched the conventual church and built a number of stores at the Marina which still bear his name.