Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Malta - Fort St. Angelo

The most impressive fortified position in the Grand Harbour, Fort St. Angelo was the centre of the fighting that took place in the Great Siege of 1565. The fort is nowadays in the hands of the Knights of St. John whose flag proudly flies from the ramparts.

Sent by Silvan, a Facebook friend from Għaxaq in Malta.

This is from Wikipedia : Fort St Angelo is a large fortification in Birgu, Malta.

The date of its original construction is unknown and may date back to Roman times. It certainly existed in the early medieval period. The remains of a tower that may date back to the 11th century when Malta was under Arab control can be traced among the more recent works. From the 14th century the Maltese Islands were under Aragonese rule and the fortification was known as Castello a Mare (Castle by the sea) and it was home to the powerful Nava family, feudal lords of the island.

When the the Knights of Malta arrived in Malta in 1530, they chose to settle in Birgu, and Fort St Angelo became the seat of the Grand Master. The Knights made this their primary fortification and substantially reinforced and remodelled it. Fort St Angelo withstood the Turks during the Siege of Malta, though in the aftermath of that siege the Knights built the fortified city of Valletta on Mount Sciberras across the other side of Grand Harbour, and the administrative centre for the knights moved there.

With the coming of the British to Malta the fort retained its importance as a military installation, and the fort was listed as a ship, originally in 1912 as HMS Egremont, but in 1933 renamed as HMS St Angelo. When the Royal Navy left Malta in 1979 the Fort was handed to the Maltese government and since then parts of the Fort have fallen into a state of disrepair.

Today some parts of the fort are leased to the Order of the Knights of St John. Other parts are used as a maritime Museum and most recently commercial development has taken place along the quayside.

The fortification has also undergone some recent repair, though not all parties seem to view this as having been done sympathetically to the site.

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