INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT MALTA’S FORTIFICATIONS

So you think you know our fortifications, aye?

Photo credits: Peter Grima/ Flickr

• There are eight main fortifications in Malta, which are Valletta, Mdina, Senglea, Birgu and Cittadella in Gozo, as well as the Floriana, Cottonera and Santa Margherita Lines. On top of these, one can also find the Corradino and Victoria Lines.

• There are 21 forts dotting the Maltese Islands. The oldest is Fort St Angelo, which dates back to the 13th century. The latest addition, Fort Mellieha, was built in the 1940s. It’s good to note that most of these remain mostly intact or have been restored, with the exception of Fort Saint Michael in Senglea, which was demolished.

• Smaller fortifications exist in the form of towers, with dozens peppered across the islands. Many have also been lost to time, including the Benghisa Tower in Birzebbugia, the Blat Moghza Tower in Mgarr and the Santa Maria delle Grazie Tower in Xghajra. Over the centuries, nobles built numerous towers which remain in private hands till today.

Photo credits: John Haslam/ Flickr

• Across the islands, one can also find numerous batteries (fortified emplacements for heavy guns). These can be either self-contained or part of larger fortifications, such as the De Guiral Battery in Fort Saint Angelo, and the Low Battery in the Cittadella.

• Fort St Elmo in Valletta predates the placement of the first stone in the city by almost 100 years, and was built by the Aragonese. The fort was dedicated to Saint Erasmus of Formia, who died circa. AD 303. St Elmo, as he is better known, is the patron saint of sailors and abdominal pain.

• Speaking of age, it’s good to be reminded that Malta’s fortifications didn’t begin at the arrival of the Knights of St John. In fact, there are six fortified sites in Malta that date back to prehistory. These can be found in Rabat, Birzebbugia, Xaghra, St Paul’s Bay, Mgarr, and Siggiewi.

Photo credits: John Haslam/ Flickr

• Fort St Elmo is quite the cultural icon… It can be found in the first level of the strategy game Age of Empires, was featured in Midnight Express, and is mentioned in the 1980 thriller by A. J. Quinnell Man on Fire. Eurovision fans will also be happy to know that the music video for the 2008 song Vodka by Morena was partly filmed here.

What else is there to know about Malta’s fortifications? How many have you visited?

Let us know in the comments section below.