Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Malta - Fort St. Elmo

Originally built in the 16th century and improved over the years, Fort St. Elmo still protects the two harbours at either side of Valetta with its impregnable fortifications.

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

This is from Wikipedia : Fort Saint Elmo is a fortification in Valletta, Malta. It stands on the seaward shore of the Sciberras Peninsula that divides Marsamxett Harbour from Grand Harbour, and commands the entrances to both harbours.

Prior to the arrival of the Knights of Malta in 1530, a watchtower existed on this point. Reinforcement of this strategic site commenced in 1533. By the time of the Ottoman Siege of Malta in 1565, this fortification had been reinforced and extended into a modest star fort.

Fort Saint Elmo was the scene of some of the most intense fighting of the siege, and it withstood massive bombardment from Turkish cannon deployed on Mount Sciberras that overlooked the fort and from batteries on the north arm of Marsamextt Harbour, present site of Fort Tigne. The initial garrison of the fort was around one hundred knights and seven hundred soldiers, including around four hundred Italian troops and sixty armed galley slaves. The garrison could be reinforced by boat from the forts across Grand Harbour.

During the bombardment of the fort, a cannon shot from Fort St Angelo across the Grand Harbour struck the ground close to the Turkish battery. Debris from the impact mortally injured the corsair and Ottoman admiral Turgut Reis (Dragut), one of the most competent of the Ottoman commanders. The fort withstood the siege for over a month, falling to the Turks on 23 June 1565. None of the defending knights survived, and only nine of the Maltese defenders survived by swimming across to Fort St. Angelo on the other side of the Grand Harbour after the fort fell.

Though the fort was reduced to rubble during the bombardments, when the Ottomans abandoned the siege the fort was rebuilt and reinforced, becoming partially incorporated into the seaward bastion of the fortress city of Valletta.

No comments: