time to explore with esplora
a maltese heritage: birgu bonanza
It is a sheer pleasure to walk around Birgu or Città Vittoriosa as it is also known, to discover its different facets. Its narrow old streets and alleys are charming to say the least, with its well kept old houses, their lovely colourful doors and captivating door knockers.
Elegance is what comes to mind as you stroll along the Grand Harbour Marina brimming with splendid boats, various restaurants and stunning views across to Valletta. Intrigue is what Heritage Malta’s Birgu Multisite Ticket leads you to as you explore three different sites to unravel some of the rich history of one of the oldest cities on the island.
The Inquisitor’s Palace is situated in the heart of Birgu. After learning that it is one of the very few buildings of its kind to have survived the ravages of five centuries, the anti-reactionary power that was unleashed by the French Revolution, the severe bombings of World War II, and the threat of modern development, it certainly feels a privilege to be able to walk inside and discover its solemn history.
Having served as the residence of the Islands’ Inquisitors, the palace is an architectural gem. Its historic reconstructions of the domestic kitchen area, the sophisticated ambience of the piano nobile, the private quarters, the austere setting of the Holy Office Tribunal, the prison complex and the torture chamber are a definite must-see.
The palace also houses the National Museum of Ethnography, with permanent displays about Malta’s religious traditions. A tourist information office is also conveniently located on site.
The Malta Maritime Museum is just a few metres away, right in front of the Marina. Housed within the Old Naval bakery, the museum charts 7,000 years of Malta’s maritime history.
Its numerous historical artefacts are a treasure trove of exciting narratives of a people who were always in contact with the sea.
Here, you will find the largest known Roman anchor in the world, the earliest known ex-voto on the island, the largest ship model belonging to the Order of St. John, the largest collection of cannons on the island, the Napoleonic figurehead of the 110 gun ship HMS Hibernia, a 1950s working marine steam engine, and a collection of more than 60 boats, just to mention a few.
Strategically located on a hillock, at the end of the Birgu peninsula, the formidable Fort St. Angelo dominates the Grand Harbour.
Today, its massive grounds offer spectacular panoramic views of the surrounding harbour and villages. Yet, in the past, this fortress was key in the shaping of Malta’s destiny.
Going back to antiquity, when it was known as the Castrum Maris (Castle-by-the-sea), this stronghold underwent several changes through the centuries as it was adapted to the military requirements of the time.
It was a well-known secret that whoever gained control of this Fort could effectively rule the Maltese Islands.
Dare to step inside this ancient war machine and experience what it means to be mighty.