The vast open quadrangle in front of St. Publius Church is characterised by the number of underground silos for the storage of grain. The silos, which consist of deep bell-shaped pits, were dug during the grandmastership of Martino de Redin (1657-1660). They were intended as safe storage space during wars and sieges. There are 76 of these pits in the Square; and similar ones are found in other parts of the Valletta-Floriana area. They are very deep and wide at their bottom end. The pits are secured by large circular stone caps which can be seen protruding above the square surface. More than 5,OOO tons of wheat and grain could be stored beneath the square. The granaries have been in continual use since their construction. They proved to be very useful during the last war, when the island was under siege for more than two years. They are still in excellent condition for storage, but their importance has diminished since the building of a modem above-ground silo in 1962.
ST.PUBLIS CHURCH St. Publius was the First Citizen or Governor of Malta, during the Roman period. He was converted to Christianity in AD 60 by St. Paul, who was in captivity on the island. Tradition has it that Publius was consecrated first Bishop of Malta.
The people of Floriana chose Publius as their patron saint and dedicated to him their parish church. The first stone was laid in 1733 in the presence of Grand Master Vilhena, but owing to lack of funds, work on the structure was delayed. It was only in 1792 that the nave was completed and the building was then consecrated as a vice-parish church. It attained parochial status in 1856. Two new aisles were added, and a classical portico was completed in 1890.
The church suffered heavy damage during the war, but it was not long before it was fully rebuilt to its original glory.
The statue of St. Publius, which is carried in procession during the annual feast day, dates from 1815.
The graceful temple fronts Granaries Square which IS the venue of religious congregations and other gatherings of a social and political nature.
At the back of the Mall, there are the delightful Argotti Gardens, constructed in 1774 to the order of Bailiff Ignatius de Argote. Near the entrance gate there is a curious grotto, decorated with shells and corals which originally formed part of Bailiff?s villa on the site. A superb fountain, which formerly adorned Gnien is-Sultan near the Victoria Gate in Valletta, now stands in the centre of the garden. From the spacious terrace, one can admire a splendid view of Marsamxetto harbour and of distant towns and villages.
With numerous exotic trees and flower-beds, this peaceful escape is popular for many visitors.
Other monuments and buildings include the War and RAF Memorials; the Catholic Institute; and the Triton Fountain. Beneath the vast flag-stoned Granaries Square is a number of deep silos built in the late 17th century to ensure food supplies for Valletta in times of war. Also of interest is the Mall, today a garden, but once was an area where the Knights played a kind of tennis. This narrow strip of greenery is dotted with statues and plaques commemorating events and personalities of Maltese 20th century history.
Also located in Floriana is the Triton Fountain which is situated in the centre of the main bus terminus. Designed by the Maltese sculptor Vincent Apap in 1959, the fountain is located by the City Gate. Around the fountain there are a number of small shops and cafes.
Floriana is located next to Valletta.