Three Old Cities

Birgu, Isla and Bormla:  The area where the Great Siege was fought and won


isla buildingsThese three cities are amongst the oldest cities in Malta.  Situated at the harbour, the cities were fortificated by the Knights of St. John before The Great Siege and served as a source of living for the locals who resided in the area and as a result became overpopulated.  The location of the cities was however also vulnerable to attacks which resulted in heavy damages in the dockyard and residential areas during the 2nd world war.  The cities are also known by other names.  Vittoriosa is also known as Birgu, Senglea as Isla while Cospicua as Bormla.  The three cities are a major attraction in themselves as they represent an important part of history in the islands.  Here is some info on each city:

birgu nightBirgu:  The city that led Malta’s towards victory in The Great Siege of 1565 is today also one of the island’s most beautiful cities characterized by a number of narrow streets and colourful houses.  One of the streets worth wandering around is Hilda Tabone Street, home to Auberge de France.  The harbour has been transformed into a Marina with berthing facilities for yachts and motor vessels from all over the world.  Along the breathtaking marina, several restaurants, a casino and other attractions have transformed the city from the site of battle in the past to an entertainment centre.  Major attractions in the city include the Malta Maritime Museum, the Inquisitors house, the Vittoriosa 1565 Museum dedicated to the Great Seige and the 16th-century fortification tower Fort St Angelo which was built in preparation of the attacks.  The War Museum commemorates the events of WWII.  From the War Museum, one can take advantage of free transportation to Fort Rinella where one can witness the world’s largest cannon and a re-enactment at 14.30hrs from Tuesday to Sunday.  Prior to becoming a Museum, the Malta Maritime Museum was a bakery that supplied bread to the troops on Malta.  Birgu or Vittoriosa was the first home of the knights of St.John.

Isla:  The city formerly known as Senglea, was unconquered in the Great Seige of the 1565, but heavily bombarded in the 2nd World War where most buildings were destroyed.  The area is much less developed.  The major attraction is The Basilica of Senglea which hosts the famous statue dedicated to Jesus Christ The Redeemer.  Excellent vast views of the Grand Harbour, Valletta and Fort St.Angelo can be enjoyed from the Gardjola Gardens which is worth a visit.

Bormla:  The largest of the three cities, also played an important role during The Great Seige and its dockyard which was an important source of living.  The latter is now being transformed into a marina.  Bormla is surrounded by strong bastions who protected the city in times of war.  Major attractions of the area include the Immaculate Conception Parish Church which is rich in art treasures and the Margerita bastion Lines known for the inner defence around the Three Cities.