The Central Gate of Valletta is one of its most popular sites: every visitor of the city has to pass through it. Originally it was designed by the architects who were in charge of planning the city and were erected while the Maltese capital was being built. Since that time the Gate has undergone five reconstructions and acquired its actual look only at the beginning of the 21st century.
After losing the battle with the Ottoman army in 1551 it was decided to build a fortified city and the famous Italian architect and military engineer Francesco Laparelli was responsible for designing the plan of it. The new city was to be surrounded by Saint Elmo`s fort and by a moat 1000 m long, 20 m wide and 18 m deep and it was essential to create the entrance to the city. So the City Gate of Valletta that got the name of Porta San Giorgio was erected. It had rather a plain design and looked like a simple curtain wall with a wooden bridge. In 1582 it was replaced by a stone one. In 1586 its name was changed to Porta Reale.
In 1633 the gate was rebuilt by Maltese architect Tomas Dingli. Its design was more sophisticated than that of Porta Reale and contained two archways: the bigger ant the smaller one. This gate has existed for more than two centuries and in 1853 it was demolished in order to be widened.
In the same year the Third Gate was constructed by order of the British government and got the name of Porta Reale or Kingsway. The new gate contained two arches and was decorated with statues of The First Grand Master of Saint John`s Order Philippe de L'Isle-Adam and that of Jean de Vallette, who founded the city. In 1942 the bridge leading to the city was damaged and the statues were destroyed. In 1964 the Third Gate was demolished.
The Fourth City Gate was designed by modern Italian architect Alziro Bergonzo and was opened in 1965. It was a part of a big project of reconstructing the Royal Opera House that had never come into life because of contradicting to the rest of the city architecture. This gate was demolished in 2011.
The building of the Fifth Gate led by Renzo Piano began in 2011 and was finished in 2014. It was also the part of a project concerning The Royal Opera House according to which its ruins were turned into the open-air theatre. The project of the modern Gate is also criticized – many of Valletta`s inhabitants wanted this gate to be designed in more traditional style, close to the Third One.