time to explore with esplora


Discover Valletta’s 500-YEAR-OLD underground tunnels

Did you know that there is a series of underground tunnels beneath the capital city of Valletta? Well, in case you didn’t, you may be thrilled to find out that the nearly 500-year-old tunnels will finally be open to the public, every Wednesday and Sunday as of this weekend.

As of November 7, guided Underground Valletta tours are being offered by Heritage Malta every Wednesday and Sunday at 10 and 11am.

What can you expect to see in the tunnels?

Great Siege Square, Republic Street

Cistern underneath Great Siege Square

Time for a history lesson! During the reign of the Knights of St John, military troops used the underground tunnels to flee the city, while the underground vaults also doubled up as grain stores.

Right beneath the Great Siege Square, which is on Republic Street, is a public cistern. It dates back to the 16th century, when a shortage of water in the city banned private gardens and introduced mandatory water reservoirs under houses. The tunnels were also used in the 20th century, when 15,000 bombs were dropped on the islands, during the Second World war. During World War II, the tunnels served as a refuge from air raids for almost 40,000 people, said a Heritage Malta spokesperson.

In some of the underground rooms, saints and carved crosses can still be seen on the walls and some shelter rooms are decorated with colourful tiles, which were salvaged from bombed houses in the city.

Speaking during the inauguration of the tours yesterday, Jose Herrera, the national heritage minister said that the public and tourists alike can now fully experience Valletta’s culture. Noel Zammit, Heritage Malta’s CEO, added that by opening this unique site beneath the capital city, Heritage Malta was now offering visitors a more holistic experience of the historic sites within Valletta.

Tickets for the tours – which take place three storeys underground – can be purchased online or from the National Museum of Archaeology.