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Pavla Antonia Meli
Form II


Introduction The Foundation of Valletta Hospitaller Military Architecture
• • Fort Saint Elmo Military Architecture Terms

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19 25 28

Biographies of Architects and Military Engineers The Walls of Valletta
• A final look

34 43 44

References List of Illustrations


The aim of this project is to give a glimpse of the rich historical heritage of the City of Valletta as my personal contribution to promote this Gem in the Crown of the Maltese Nation. Valletta in June 1998 is designated as the European Cultural City for that month.

General history of the City before its foundation.
The City of Valletta is situated on one of the promontories jutting out into the Grand Harbour. It affords a natural safe anchorage in the sheltered creeks along its sides, Pieta’ \ Msida Creeks to the North East and the Cottonera Creeks to the South. The tongue of land was known to the early inhabitants of Malta as Xaghriet Mewwija – meaning the inhabited promontory and the site of the present City called Sheb-ir-Ras – meaning the light point. No doubt, the importance of the harbours was recognised from the earliest times. Long before anybody thought of building a city on this land the Maltese used to say that: F’Xghariet Mewwija ghad kull xiber jiswa mija – meaning that for every palm (a unit of measurement) will cost one hundred. It appears that in 1488 a small fort called Torre della Bocca was constructed at the extreme point of Sheb-Ir-Ras. This tiny fort surrounded by a moat had crumbled down when the Order of Saint John took possession of Malta in 1530. The strategic importance of this fort in the defense of the Marsamxetto and Grand Harbours was recognised, so much so, that in 1552, under the Grand Mastership of D’Omedes it was reconstructed.

Geographical description of Valletta.
The promontory of Sheb-ir-Ras is a continuation into the sea off the ridge, which divides the Qormi from the Birkirkara Basin. At its widest it is half a mile wide; and its length, from Blatal-Bajda to Saint Elmo tip is a mile and a half. Midway between these extremes, the ridge of the promontory is 175 feet above sea level and it descends gently in either direction to the plateaus, 125 feet high, which are the central areas of Valletta and Floriana respectively. Beyond them the ridge again descends; one side to Portes des Bombes and the other, more steeply, to the Camarata Saddle – Map 1, The neck of the promontory is marked by two valleys which originate in the neighbourhood of what is now Saint Paul Square in Hamrun. One of these, the Pieta Valley, descends in a North-Easterly direction to the Creek of Marsamxetto; the other, the Menqa Valley to the Lighter Basin in the Grand Harbour. They are so close one to the other, as to have suggested the linking of the two harbours by a canal from Creek to Basin. Though the promontory generally slopes steeply on either side, valleys occasionally distort the regularity of its contours. Five of these debouch into Marsamxetto Harbour. These are the following : 1. The Braxia Valley, which descends from Port des Bombes to join the Pieta Valley; 2. The Saint Rocco Valley, which descends from what is now the Excelsior Hotel to the cove under Quarantine Bastion; 3. The Manderaggio Valley, which, origination from what is now Republic Street – near the Opera Site – traverses the what was the Slum by that name – now Mattia Preti Square; 4. The Ghetto Valley, which descends to Saint Elmo Bay from what is now the Archbishop’s Palace; 5. The Arsenal Valley, which descends to the same Bay from the Camerata Saddle.


Map 1

The Topological Map of Mount Sheb irRas


Three of these valleys debouch into the Grand Harbour, these are the following : 1. The Saint Lazarus Valley, behind the Bastion by that name; 2. The Saint Lucy Valley, behind the Saint Barbara Bastion; 3. The Crucifix Valley, which has its source near the nowadays Sarria Church and descends in an Easterly direction across nowadays Sir Filippo Sceberras Square and along the line of the modern Crucifix Road.

The fortifications of Valletta.
Valletta is defended by two lines of fortifications – the Inner Fortifications and the Outer Fortifications. The inner defenses of Valletta include a fort, an enceintre of bastions and curtains, defensive ditches, two cavaliers and various advance-works. The fort is that of Saint Elmo on the headland, which commands the entrance of the two harbours and is isolated by a ditch, now in part obscured by a fly-over. A second ditch extends from harbour to harbour where the promontory of Sheb-ir-Ras is highest and widest. Between these ditches lies the City of Valletta encircled by ramparts whose bastions and curtains dominate the plateau of Floriana and the two harbours. Towards Marsamxetto are the Bastions of Saint Saviour and Saint Andrew; towards Grand Harbour those of Saint Lazarus, Saint Christopher and Saint Barbara. On the side of Floriana are the twin Bastions of Saint John and Saint James dominated by their Cavaliers; and at the angles, those of Saint Michael and of Saints Peter and Paul. Reinforcing the corner bastions are the DemiBastions and Counterguard of Saint Michael, and the Counterguards of Saint Peter and Lascaris. The Counterguards of Saint John and Saint James command the Saint Rocco and Crucifix Valleys respectively. All these advance-works are in their turn defended by ditches – Map 2. The outer defenses of Valletta are composed of much the same elements as the inner; but cavaliers are omitted, while lunettes and crown and horn works are added. Across the promontory, on the edge of the plateau of Floriana, and half a mile in advance of the enceinte, a line of bastions and curtains, protected by a ditch, commands the approaches to Valletta from the interior of the Island. It is continued along the shores of both harbours to join that of the inner defences. In the centre, facing landwards, is a triple bastion bearing the names of Saints James, Philip and Luke; and on either side, the Bastions of Saint Saviour and Saint Francis. Towards the Grand Harbour are the Kalkara, Crucifix and Capuchin Bastions, and towards Marsamxetto Harbour are those called Quarantine, Msida and Sa Maison. In advance of Main Ditch, the Ravelin of Our Lady is so placed as to dominate the Brachia (Braxia) Valley; the Crown and Horn Works, projecting from the Ravelin of Saint Francis, to command the Menqa Valley. Between the ravelins are lunettes. The ravelins, lunettes and crown and horn works are, in their turn, defended by ditches. Mention must also be made of an inner defense line known to-day as the North Entrenchment, which runs above, parallel to, and some 200 yards in the rear of, the defences overlooking Marsamxetto – Map 1.

The streets of Valletta.
In the general layout of Valletta one find that the ramparts of Valletta were not raised about existing buildings. On the contrary, Valletta was laid out within an enceinte virtually complete; and its streets, the alignment of which was hardly changed in four hundred years, was subordinated to the needs of military defense. The streets are straight; some


Map 2

The Fortifications of Valletta


nine streets are parallel and some dozen at right angles, to the axis of the promontory forming more than a hundred rectangular blocks or insulae. Republic Street, the former Strada San Giorgio, is an outstanding street of Valletta. This is not because it is the widest and longest, but because it is the approach to the Civic Centre from City Gate, the principal entrance of the City; and because it links Castille Palace, the Auberges and Saint John Co-Cathedral. Only less wide from Republic Street are Merchants Street, the former Strada San Giacomo, and Old Bakery Street, the former Strada San Giovanni Battista, leading to the Cavaliers. Valletta’s street gradients are horrendous. The longitudinal streets resemble switch-backs and many of the lateral streets fall too steeply to the harbours to be convenient. Many streets are made of steps, for example the parts of Saint Lucy Street, the former Strada della Vittoria, East Street, the former Strada San Luigi and Strada San Simeone – the nowadays Steps Street !!! Valletta squares relieve the Citizens from the monotony of the street grid, albeit scanty reservation of space-free of building. In the centre, Saint George Square, known also as the Main Guard and Republic Square provide a dignified setting for public buildings. Towards Marsamxetto Harbour, Independence Square harmonizes the Protestant Temple and a Spanish Auberge. To the right hand side of Saint John’s Co Cathedral there is the Great Siege of 1565 Square. In time we have lost a square, formerly Piazza Malcantone, to the Suq – Valletta’s main market and gained another – thanks to the Second World War, the nowadays Saint John’s Square – formerly there stood a block of buildings which received a direct hit during the said war. Finally we come to what are left of Valletta’s Open Spaces. In addition to the squares there are some open spaces expressly created for the convenience and enjoyment of the community. These are on and about the enceinte, which though military in use are now enjoyed by the Citizens. Such are the Gardens known as the Lower and Upper Barakka with their entrancing views of the Grand Harbour and the Three Cities. Those on Saint John Bastion and contiguous curtain; the gardens on the Bastions of Saint Michael and Andrew – the Hastings Garden, overlooking Marsamxetto Harbour; and the low-lying open space outside the Fort Saint Elmo. The modern breach in the ramparts at Castille Square has converted a quiet open space into a traffic artery – Map 3.

The demography of Valletta.
Exclude the headland of Fort Saint Elmo, the total land area covered by Valletta is 0.727 square kilometers. The census of 1985 gave a population of 9 340 persons living at Valletta on the night of November 16, 1985, which made it one of the most densely populated area in the Maltese Islands 12 847 persons per square kilometer. Unfortunately, the Census effected ten years later confirmed the decline in Valletta’s population. As a matter of fact the census revealed a population of 7 186 and a density of 9 984 persons per square kilometer. If we are to project Valletta’s future population we find that it will drop to a record low of 5 875 by the year 2005 unless the existing buildings are rehabilitated to modern standards. Most of the uninhabited buildings are entirely sub-standard and not fit for habitation. To this end there is the Valletta Rehabilitation Committee – my father is on this Committee - and its primary scope is to rehabilitate Valletta, both Culturally and Habitation wise. A lot of work has been made since its setup in 1988, to mention a few: the Churches of Saint James and Tal-Pilar Church; various Social Housing were built instead of dilapidated slums and other dangerous buildings.


Map 3

Modern Day Valletta




The Foundation of Valletta
The earliest proposal, to build a City on top Sheb-ir-Ras, appears to have come from the engineers Antonio Ferramolino and Leone Strozzi well before the Great Siege of 1565. On March 11th 1558 Bartolomeo Genga, the famous Italian Architect and Military Engineer arrived in Malta and after examining the position repeated the proposals which have been made earlier. He made a model of his plan, which included a larger area than that of Francesco Laparelli da Cortona. The front of the new city extended to the present Floriana, so that the city guns were able to cover the Corradino high grounds. In 1559 Genga died in Malta and Baldassare Lanci d’ Urbino took his place. Lanci’s plan was simpler and thus more practical, however, the work was not undertaken and the proposal was shelved until the great event of 1565. After the glorious victory over the Turks and in spite of the warm congratulations and promises of assistance which the defenders had received from all parts of Catholic and Protestant Europe, the Council of the Order was by no means assured about the safety of their position in Malta and many members wished to quit the Maltese Islands. Intelligence received from the East announced that the Grand Seignor, incensed at the failure of his troops under the command of his best generals and admirals had declared that he would place himself at the head of a formidable army and attach Malta in the following Spring. Money was short for the rebuilding of the fortifications and there were few soldiers to man them. For the surrounding countryside had been burned and depopulated by the Turks – most of the villages burned, the cisterns drained or poisoned and no money left either to buy provisions or repair the ‘war damage’. What rendered the situation most desperate was the few soldiers and still fewer knights remained – indeed their numbers was insufficient to defend the Island against the attach of the most consistent army. In this desperate situation, many of the members of the Council were of the opinion that the most prudent measure would be to evacuate Malta. Here we have to admire La Valette in what one can consider worth of a modern statesman. Elated by the glory he had obtained in its defense, declared he would sooner be buried in its ruins than consent to abandon it. Indeed in this dreadful dilemma he had but one resource left, which indeed nothing but such desperate circumstances could justify and which many modern military strategists would scrupled to employ. Soleiman, La Valette well knew, would never attempt to attack Malta without a most formidable fleet : he therefore caused the arsenal at Constantinople to be burned to the ground and thus destroy a great number of warships intended for this expedition – in a true James Bond tradition ! One is induced to assert that the burning of the arsenal at Constantinople was by way of reprisal; Selim II, the son of Soleiman having caused the arsenal at Venice to be set on fire before the beginning of the Great Siege. La Valette having no longer anything to apprehend from the Grand Seignor – at least in the short term resolved to take advantage of this situation to re-build the fortifications so completely ruined by the Turks. He was so well aware of the importance of the situation of Fort Saint Elmo, and therefore immediately begun to repair it. He was endowed with foresight that he saw the strategic advantage of this peninsula. When this war should be finished, he meant to transfer the Convent there and make it the principal place of residence for the knights, who would be more secure there than in the Borgo, which commanded on all sides by the surrounding hills – Salvatore, Margherita and Corradino. The most powerful assistance, however, was necessary to complete so great undertaking, the Grand Master sent ambassadors with the plan of this new town – what we term to-day


Grand MasterJean Parisot de la Valette, founder of the City of Valletta


as the feasibility project – to all Christian Kings and Princes, who unanimously expressed their approbation of it. Pope Pius V promised to contribute 15 000 crowns and the King of France 140 000 French Livres to be paid from the tenths or tithes of his kingdom. Philip II of Spain granted 90 00 French Livres and King Sebastian of Portugal 30 000 Cruzados. Most of the Commanders, nobly disinterested, stripped themselves of their property and even some of their most valuable movables, the profits from which they sent to Malta. La Valette applied to Pope Pius IV for the services of an expert architect well versed in town planning and the design of fortifications to be sent to Malta to take charge of the preparations for the new city. For this task the Pope chose Francesco Laparelli an assistant of Michelangelo and a man with wide experience of military defences. Laparelli arrived in Malta in the final days of December 1565 at the very time that the knights were divided in their opinion whether of staying or going as already discussed above. In face of this uncertainty, La Valette ordered Laparelli to prepare his plans with utmost speed. Within three days of his arrival he was able to lay his proposals before the Council. These proposals were not altered in any important particular in the final execution of his scheme. There were times when the Grand Master wavered in his resolution, deterred by the thought of the tremendous expenditure involved. However, Gabrio Serbelloni – who was sent to Malta by Philip II, supported Laparelli’s insistence of the proposed building development for the new city. It was Serebellioni’s advice that has given weight and so-to-say enforced the action to be taken. The fateful decision was formally taken on March 14th 1566. La Valette and his Council and knights proceeded to Sheb-ir-Ras in great pomp and there laid the foundation-stone of the new city 14 days later, that is, March 28th, which borne his name, on which was engraven in Latin the decree of the Council. FR. JOHANNES DE VALLETTA SACRE DOMUS HOSP. HIEROSOL. M. MAGISTER PERICULORUM ANNO SUPERIORE A SUIS MILITIBUS, POULOQUE MELITEO IN OBSIDIONE TURCA PERPESSORUM MEMOR …………….. …………….. The English version of the text is as follows : “Fr. Jean de la Valette, Grand Master of the Hospitaller and Military Order of Saint John, mindful of the danger to which, the year before, his knights and people of Malta were exposed during the siege by the Turks, having consulted the heads of the Order about construction of a new city and fortifying the same by walls ramparts and towers sufficient to th resist any attack and to repeal or at least, to withstand the Turkish enemy on Thursday 28 , of March in the year of the Lord 1566, after the invocation of the Almighty God, implored the intercession of the Holy Virgin Mother, to the Patron Saint John the Baptist and of other Saints, to grant the work commenced should lead to prosperity and the happiness of the whole Christian community, and to the advantage of the Order laid the foundation-stone of the city on a hill called Sheb-ir-Ras by the natives and having granted for its arms a golden lion on a red shield wished it to be called by his name VALLETTA. “ In order to preserve to the latest posterity the remembrance of so important an event, a great number of gold coins and silver medals were thrown among the foundation stones – Plate 1.


This ceremony was followed by the most assiduous application to completion of the work. Everyone between the ages of 12 and 60, without distinction of rank, was employed on this grand project. Those who could not work had to pay 1 Tari for every day he kept from work. Deep moats were cut down to sea level and strong walls were raised straight from the sea. The approaches to the countryside were cleared from stones and earth, a work proved costly as the fortifications themselves. The space within the walls was then offered for sale. A considerable sum was thus raised, though the price of the land was as low as 2 Tari per square cane. In this military oligarchy, all regarded themselves as concerned – including la Valette himself. In his last two-year lease of life left in him he never neglected his duties as the chief fireman on site. He took his meals like a common workman and gave audience and issued out his orders on site. He had a small chapel built at the highest point on the plateau, in which he prayed and rested after his wearisome inspections. Commander de la Fontaine, celebrated for his skill in fortifications, was the principal director and superintendent of these works. The want of more finance to carry them on was soon sensibly felt. The Order, therefore, to supply this deficiently, caused copper coins to be minted and annexed a different value to the pieces, according to the size into which they were cut. These coins, known as Patacca were of two types – thin to the value of 2 Tari and the other type was large to the value of 4 Tari. Each coin, on one side were represented two hands clasped together and the other side bore the arms of La Valette, quartered with those of the Order, with the following legend – NON AES, SED FIDES, which in English means “ Not brass but credit”, the value of each coin being shown in figures – Plate 1. This step rendered silver very scarce, but helped to pay the multitude of workmen engaged on the new works. The punctuality with which payment was received from Europe established perfect confidence among the people, that they never complained against the circulation of copper coin or were the works ever discontinued or at least neglected. According to the proposed plans, the rocky and uneven top of Sheb-ir-Ras was to be leveled before the erection of any building. The difficult work had been fairly begun when rumors of a Turkish expedition against the Island reached the Order. La Valette directed that, the fortifications should have the priority over the leveling of the site. This was done at once with the result that the expensive leveling was abandoned for good and Valletta had to be built with steep streets following the natural contour of the rock – Map 1. The only portion of land which was already leveled was the top part of the nowadays Republic Street and Merchant’s Street. During the rest of 1566 practically all work was concentrated upon the fortifications in order to make the peninsula secure from impending Turkish force then being set up for another invasion. On August 21st, 1568, Grand Master Jean de la Valette passed on to better life. He was first interred in the vault of the Chapel of Saint Anne in Fort Saint Angelo, however, Grand Master Pietro del Monte, who succeeded la Valette, saw that his predecessor should be laid to rest in his own City. The funerary arrangements took form of a State Funeral in which the knights and whole of the Maltese population participated. The mortal remains of la Valette were placed on board the Admiral of the Order galley, which was disarmed and dismasted and towed by two armed galleys hung with black cloth. The same galleys likewise towed the banners, standards and arms taken from the Turks and other barbarians whom he conquered. These were followed by two galleys, which had particularly belonged personally to la Valette, covered also in black cloth. Grand Master Del Monte and his Council, Commanders and the officers embarked on these two galleys. The household of the deceased Grand Master landed first, the majority of them carried flambeaux and the rest colours taken from the enemy. The clergy bearing the body and singing hymns followed these. Jean de La Valette was finally laid to rest at his own Chapel, where he worked and


I l Ilustration 2 1. Grand Master la Valette commemorative medal struck for the occasion of the foundation of Valletta – Type 1 (four other types were concurrently minted and placed under the foundation stone.) 2. Grand Master Verdala 2 Silver Tari Patacca which was still in usage twenty years after the first ones were minted by la Valette. 3. Pope Saint Pius V Medallion struck in Rome on his ascension to the Throne of Peter on January 7th, 1566.


rested, to be the first and sole inhabitant of Valletta for a number of months. Now that la Valette was dead his successor was very anxious to complete the City of Valletta, and for that purpose not only attended himself to the works but also contributed to the expenses out of his own private property. Valletta’s fortifications and the basic urbanistics were finished by 1571 and the Convent was transferred there from Vittoriosa and the new city became the seat of Government ever since. We now come back to Laparelli’s first report this can be said to be the first Project Management exercise in the Maltese Islands. For example, he calculated that in order to repair the damaged inflicted on fortifications of Birgu, Senglea and Saint Elmo it would take 4 000 men working day and night. Another example was that of siting the land 500 canes away from the ditch of Fort Saint Elmo. He estimated that he would require the service of 3 000 labourers, half employed in stone cutting, the rest transporting the material, plus 100 stone masons and 400 manual workers (what we call nowadays unskilled labour) to assist the craftsmen. With such workforce in three months the city would be able to resist a siege if manned by a garrison of 3 000 well provisioned infantry. A 1 000 workmen would be retained for a fourth month to carry out such work as could be undertaken even if they were under siege. With each day’s delay more workman would be required to complete the works on time; he estimated that 5 000 labourers would now be needed before the end of January and by mid-March 5 000 infantry men would be needed to guard the works on Sheb-ir-Ras and Mdina. If the new city was not commenced because of scarcity of workmen 12 000 infantry men and 200 light-horse would be needed to defend the Island. By the time of the publication of his second report, that of the 13th January 1566, he had time to consider in more depth the scheme to fortify Sheb-ir-Ras and was fully aware of the problems involved. By early April 1566, Laparelli had committed his designs to paper and was prepared to display his scheme to the European princes by way of plan and explanatory reports – a sort of a palaeo-feasibility report. His confidence was not misplaced and from that time on the new city proceeded under his guidance without serious interruptions. Reports after this month convey an impression of steady progress despite his repeated complains about the shortage of hands and finance. Since it was barely eight months before the Turkish fleet might again be expected, the European princes supplied what it was required – funds and workmen. Laparelli even engaged 500 workmen from Italy and Sicily to finish off in time. Hence the introduction of many Italian surnames in the Maltese Telephone Directory ! It is estimated that in summer of 1566 between 1 000 and 2 000 were engaged on the project. The works progressed through the winter months – breaking the traditional winter closedseason for works. The following May, that is May 1567, Laparelli listed various items of works which remained to be carried out in Valletta – the ditch on the land front had to be excavated; the material excavated was to be used for the glacis; various gateways had to be made in the ditch and counterscrap; the material excavated had to be used as in-filling where it was unlikely to be affected during bombardments. When it was possible to do without disturbing the building of the front, the material removed from the high ground was to be used to build up thick walls in those parts where there were no natural ramparts. Once the walls were raised they were to be backed by terrapins of well-rammed earth which would protect the masonry from the effects of Sun and elements – erosion in other words. To prevent any damage to the newly constructed walls through heat, it was necessary to keep them well moistened so that the mortar could dry out slowly and act as an effective binding agent. It was decided to might as well cease stone-laying altogether during the hot Summer months and use respite to build supplies of mortar, sand and cut stone. There are, however, certain discrepancies between Laparelli’s designs, the various reproductions based on his plan published after 1566 and the works carried out. Examples of such include


many cavaliers shown on the plan but only two – that of Saint John and Saint James were ever built; the galley-pen, the manderaggio and the ship repair yard, the arsenal were likewise never executed – Map 4.

Map 4 Valletta in early 1600’s After the above mentioned report was submitted, Laparelli submitted a tentative schedule of works to be undertaken in the twelve months from June 1st 1567 to May 51st 1568, assuming the workforce of 4 000 men. This estimate was based on the volume of work carried out in the previous year. The ditch, which was still some 16 palms short of the required depth of 40 palms, was to be deepened. Laparelli proposed to allocate to this task half the workforce, who should be able to complete it in those twelve months. The other half would be employed on the lateral walls, either carving ramparts out of rock, or in building up masonry walls, according to the dictates of the terrain. No wall building was to take place in the immediately ensuing three and a half months. The construction of magazines to store artillery, munitions and victuals during a siege and of bakeries, cisterns, corn and power mills was also to be undertaken. Laparelli estimated that in twelve months the new city would be in a defendable state, given a further year the enceinte might be completed, but would be many years before a full-fledged city emerged. From May 26th report it is apparent that in the first year of construction Laparelli had concentrated on building the land front of Valletta, while at the same time repairing Fort Saint Elmo. In 1569 it was decreed that all stone to be used in the building of Valletta was to be quarried from the manderaggio. Unfortunately, eventually a layer of stone unsuitable for building was


encountered before the sea level was reached. This together with the realization that the Marsamxetto Harbour did not afford sufficient shelter in rough weather led to the abandonment of the site and unplanned mass of slum dwelling spring up in the old quarry – only to be completely ridden off in the late 1950’s, during the post World War Two reconstruction of Valletta. In concluding this chapter of this project, we can mention some other facts related to the foundation of Valletta. • Promises must be kept Despite the shortage of work-men and the time schedule brought forward about the Turk’s impending return, Laparelli believed that the knights had no alternative but to proceed with Valletta if they were to fulfill their obligation towards the rulers who had so generously contributed to the building of Valletta. • Main Sponsor The main sponsor of the City of Valletta was Saint Pius V, a Domenican – Illustration 2 • Palaeo-Public Relations Exercise Both the Order and Laparelli appreciated the importance of supplying up-to-date progress reports to interested foreign parties. The military engineer probably saw this as an excellent opportunity of acquainting prospective patron with his work, while the Order was dependent on the rulers of goodwill if the project was to be completed. • The Maltese architect Gerolamo Cassar By April 1558, Laparelli was confident that his assistant, the Maltese Gerolamo Cassar, if well briefed in what to be done, could be left in command while he visited Cortona to attend to family business. As what happens in similar circumstances, the master gives instructions to his subordinate, allowing him little scope to show initiative. These instructions, during Laparelli’s absence from work could proceed on to a predetermined point and no further. Laparelli returned to Malta towards the end of 1568 and supervised the works until his final departure from the Island about a year later. • The tragic end of Francesco Laparelli da Cortona One of the reasons put forward by Laparelli when he resigned from the service of the Order was the desire to gain military glory. When he was on active service to the Venetians he died of plague on October 26th, 1570 in Candia – today’s Crete, during the Candian War. • Transition from Birgu to the new city of Valletta The Chapter General held in November 1569 decided to move the Convent from Birgu to Valletta. After a delay of over a year the transfer was effectively made in March 1571. • The bastions The bastions are about eleven canes thick, the lower parts were cut out of solid rock, six canes wide and five canes shoulders.




Introduction and site description Fort Saint Elmo is situated at the tip of the peninsula upon which the Valletta was build to the plan of Francesco Laparelli da Cortona – Plan 1 and Plate 1. The Fort saveguards the entry to the two natural harbours, the Grand Harbour and Marsamxetto Harbour, and is surrounded by the sea and its landfront is connected to the rest of the city by a stretch of land some seven hundred metres wide. Fort Saint Elmo complex has an approximate footprint of 50 400 square metres. This would include the original fort and the extended outworks along the bastions. The confines of the Fort are all bounded within the bastion walls of a changing profiles. On the land-front side there is a deeply cut ditch. The highest point of the Fort is circa fifty metres above sea level. The main gate of the Fort is accessible from the land-front glacis by means of a stone bridge over the ditch. The approach from the main gate leads to a vaulted passageway to the upper parade ground. Within the Fort there is a small chapel of del Soccorso. Besides the extensive bastion walls, the main architectural elements of historical value include the upper and lower parade ground, the magazines surrounding the internal piazza, the gate houses and the gun emplacements. The Drill Hall is accessible from Spur Street today houses the National War Museum including a small yard in front the Museum. The lower parade ground is bounded on one side by a three-storey block known as the Pinto magazines which today been occupied by constructors of Carnival floats and squatters. A number of individual buildings in the lower parade ground are in a dilapidated state. A long underground water tank near the Vendrome bastion with a capacity of over a million gallons still serves to store rainwater run-off from surrounding areas. In front of the land-front fortifications of Fort Saint Elmo, the open glacis contains underground bell-shaped granaries, which were used for the storage of wheat. Today, the granaries are no longer in use and the open space serves as a parking area. The land-front ditch served as a Botanical Gardens and serviced the medical school of the Order. Nowadays the ditch of the Fort is partly used as a training ground by the Police Academy. The walls of the Fort, together with the Examinations Centre and the Evans Laboratories form Ditch Square. The British had intended to cut the rock between the two Harbours and to transform the Fort into an island. However due to the considerable financial outlay required they abandoned the project. The two principal streets of Valletta, Republic Street and Merchants’ Street stretch from the main entrance of the City all the way to Fort Saint Elmo. The unobstructed visual sightlines along these straight streets permit distant views of the Fort from the upper and central parts of Valletta. Fort Saint Elmo in history When the Knights of Saint John arrived in Malta in 1530 they set up their base in the maritime city of Birgu and Fort Saint Angelo. However, from a strategic military point of view it soon became apparent that any defense of the Grand Harbour and Marsamxetto Harbour necessitated a conversion of the existing medieval watchtower to a strong fort at the tip of the Sheb-ir-Ras peninsula. The Order was in a dire financial situation and the first of a series of proposals to build a fort on Sheb-ir-Ras was made to Grand Master Juan De Homedes by Antonio Ferrandino da Bergamo in 1541. It was, however, on the recommendation of the Italian engineer Count Pietro Pardo Strozzi the Prior of Capua that Fort Saint Elmo was finally constructed on the barren rock at the tip of Sheb-ir-Ras.


Plan 1 Fort Saint Elmo In 1551 after a scanting attack by the Turks when they pillaged and ransacked the island with hardly any opposition, Strozzi made a case for the immediate need to build a strong fort to strengthen the harbour defenses. On January 8th, 1552, Grand Master De Homedes instructed Strozzi together with knights Fra George Bombast, Fra Louis Lastic and Pietro Prato to design and supervise the construction of Fort Saint Elmo. The designers of the Fort were only given six months, up till June, to complete its construction. The original small chapel to Saint Elmo was retained within the walls of the fort. The newly constructed fort consisted of a small star shaped design with angled bastions. The walls were relatively thin and they were no higher than the level of the ground behind the fort. The fort lacked any outworks as in normally the case and its purpose was defend against any invaders from the sea and it afforded no protection from any land invasion. Numerous contemporary historians have given a detailed description of the Great Siege; hence, there is no need to recount the episode in this work. However, we shall briefly discuss the role of Saint Elmo in this siege. The Turkish fleet appeared off the islands on May 18th, 1565 and landed the main body of the army at Marsaxlokk, setting a camp at Zabbar, facing Birgu. After a war conference, Dragut attacked Fort Saint Elmo with all his forces, erecting shelters in front of the fort to protect his artillery from its guns. These shelters were small obstacles to the Saint Elmo gunners, who repeatedly demolished them; and, so long as the fort held out, it was impossible for the Turks to make full use of Sheb-ir-Ras from which artillery could so easily dominate the Birgu and Fort Saint Angelo. Attach after attack was pressed home onto Saint Elmo, but the solid stone walls of this glorious Fort deflected many of the shots, and the ditches, largely excavated from the solid rock, made mining a slow process. Withering fire from the mass of the Turkish cannon finally broke down the walls and reduced all to rabble. When infilade fire from guns prevented further reinforcements from being send over from


the Birgu, infantry closed in for a final kill, with ladders, bridges and wooden towers, whilst twenty-two huge catapults bombarded and demolished what was left of the ramparts. On June 23rd, the eve of the Feast of Saint John – the Order’s main feast, Fort Saint Elmo fell, and the last of its 1 300 defenders died. This brave resistance seriously delayed the attack against the main entrance on the other side of the Grand Harbour, and gave the Knights opportunity to call for assistance from Sicily. With the defenders of Fort Saint Elmo removed the Turks were now able to mount their guns on the high ground facing Fort Saint Angelo and Fort Saint Michael. The main assault was opened but, though constantly breached, the defenders’ line finally held. The Turkish soldiers were discouraged when their repeated attacks were repulsed; and finally wasted by disease and wounds, they felt in no condition to fight the reinforcements, which arrived from Sicily on September 7th. On the morrow what was left of the Turkish army packed up their wounded and withdrew to Saint Paul’s Bay where the last fights of the Great Siege were held. Steps for rebuilding Fort Saint Elmo were taken immediately after the Siege by the Knights. Laparelli made the plans for Fort Saint Elmo and this fort was one of the first structures to be completed. The original design in the form of a star was retained but with stronger walls and deeper ditches. In 1689 a new series of fortifications known as the Carafa Bastions were designed by Fra Carlos de Gruninberg and built under the supervision of the Order’s French military engineer Mederico Blondel.

During the course of the eighteenth century various barracks were built around the internal piazza within the Fort. During the long reign of Grand Master Pinto (1741-1773), nineteen large vaulted magazines on three floors were constructed in the outworks along the Carafa Bastions. These structures were intended for the storage of food and as a shelter for women and children in the event of a siege.


Within the precincts of Fort Saint Elmo are two religious buildings. The old chapel which had existed since 1488 was incorporated near the gate to the Fort, referred to as del Soccorso – Plan 2. The chapel was re-dedicated to Saint Anne in the mid-sixteenth century. The chapel although of modest dimensions is embellished with ornate carvings that date to the seventeenth century. Another chapel also dedicated to Saint Anne and which has an early eighteenth century Baroque façade overlooking the piazza was desecrated during the British period and its interior completely remodeled.

Plan 2 The Chapel of Saint Anne

During the British period, between 1866 and 1877, the defensive outworks were strengthened by the construction of gun emplacements and embrasures on the spurs of the cavaliers facing the harbour. Within the bastion walls of Fort Saint Elmo are buried two distinguished British Officers who are General Sir Ralph Abercrombie and the first British Governor of Malta Sir Alexander Ball.

Plan 3 Front elevation of Fort Saint Elmo


A circular stone lighthouse some 56 feet in height and a total of 206 feet above sea level used to dominate the skyline of Fort Saint Elmo and served as a guiding light to incoming ships. This lighthouse was demolished in 1940 for security reasons as it could have served as a landmark for the enemy aircraft during the Second World War.

Plate 2 Saint Gregory Bastion The ditch of the Fort used to house the Botanical Gardens, which provided a source of medicinal plants for the school of Anatomy of the Order. Sir Alexander Ball later transferred these gardens to Floriana before he died in 1804. During the Second World War on June 11th, 1940 the first bombs from the Italian Regia Aeronautica were delivered to the fort effecting the first casualties of the said war. In 1942 the Italians – Decima Mas - made a daring sea attack on the Grand Harbour, using E Boats, which was over in less than five minutes with the complete destruction of the attacking force. As from 1988, the Police Academy was accommodated with the precincts of Fort Saint Elmo. In March 1997, Fort Saint Elmo and Environs Development Brief – First Draft, Commissioned by the Valletta Rehabilitation Project and prepared by the Local Plans Unit, Planning Authority was published. Action is being taken to conserve and rehabilitate this National Monument for future generations.


Plate 3 Fort Saint Elmo – Ditch and Saint Gregory Curtain

Plate 4 Fort Saint Elmo – Saint John Bastion (foreground) and Saint Ubaldesca Curtain


We now come towards the end of this project, and, therefore, now is the time to explain via photographs and illustrations the various military architectural terms which we encountered in the introductory part of this project.


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A fortified work built at the salient angles of polygonal ramparts. A rampart usually placed forward to protect an entrance. Vaulted chambers for guns. An inner defensive work raised higher than the other lines of Fortification. In Malta, usually a five-sided fort. A fortress dominating a city – last line of defense. A protective work in front of a bastion. A wall of fortification. A line defended by bastions. A half bastion protecting a curtain. A detached triangular work built in the moat. A sentry-box corbelled out from the angle of a rampart. The enclosure of the fortifications. Ground cut so that it slopes away from a line of fortifications. The face of a line. A space left at foot of a rampart next to the moat for defense, protected by a parapet. A work outside the main line of fortifications. It is detached on the front to the attack. Any defensive works placed beyond the main line of Fortifications and detached. A level place for mounting guns in a battery. A line wide enough at the top to allow the passage of troops, And usually battered to deflect shot. A small detached triangular work with two faces. The revetted face of a rampart. A detached oblong work with the ends projecting outwards at an obtuse angle. A ground plan of a defense system.

Cavalier Citadel Counterguard Curtain


Enceintre Escarpment

Fausse-braie Hornwork Outworks Platform Rampart

Scrap Tenaille


Plan 4 Saint John Cavalier – a cutaway diagram.

Plate 5 Fort Saint Elmo – Casemate and Musketry loopholes.


Plan 5 Saint Michael’s counterguard to protect Saint Michael’s demi-bastion – Marsamxetto side.

Plan 6 Cutaway diagram showing the layout of the various works of the Valletta landfront.




The following is a concise biography of the various Military Architects and Engineers – Maltese and foreign who have worked on the fortifications of Valletta. They are given in alphabetical order and not in chronological order. This list has been reduced only to those who have actually worked upon the fortifications mentioned in this project.

Barbara, Giovanni
Maltese architect and engineer born about 1670 in Lija and died in 1730 and buried in his native village. He was famous both in Malta and abroad as a military engineer. He was employed upon the Floriana Defences and built the Sa Maison skew arch, sometimes called arco Barbara, a work which is rightly considered by many a marvel of construction. His architectural works include the parish church of Tas-Salvatur in Lija (1694); Saint James for the langue of Castille in Valletta (1710); the Magisterial Palace in Mdina and the Seminary in the same city both in circa 1732.

Bonici, Giuseppe
Maltese architect born in 1707. From an early age he showed an inclination for architecture and at twelve he was continually drawing, with little assistance from his elders. Helped by his father, he entered the studio of Giovanni Barbara, and under his direction, carried out work on the Floriana Defences. It is not known how long he spent with Barbara, but by the time he had reached the age of twenty-six he had begun to design on his own. His works in Valletta included the Church of Saint Barbara, the Customs House and several houses in the same city. Bonici died in 1779 at the age of seventy-two.

Campi, Scipione
An Italian military engineer born in Pesaro and died in Liege in 1579. He found himself in Malta after the great siege of 1565, where he came in company with several other engineers to consult upon the new city of Valletta then being proposed by Laparelli assisted by Gerolamo Cassar. He noted various errors and suggested improvements in Valletta and on the older defenses, including work on Fort Saint Michael. Returning to Italy, he was sent to Flanders by Serbelloni, where he served under Don John of Austria and assisted in building the Meuse Fort on a hill not far from Namur. He was probably wounded in the attack on Maestricht and died of his wounds at Liege.

Cassar, Gerolamo
Maltese architect whose work has been more publicized than that of any other architect in Malta. He was born in 1520 and died in 1586. In architecture and military engineering he was a student of the Maltese engineer Evangelista della Menga and the Italian Francesco Laparelli. During his stay in Malta Laparelli so well trained Cassar in the building of fortifications, that without Laparelli’s help Cassar could continue very well and perfect the building of the city of Valletta. As soon as new came that the Turks were directing their attention to Cyprus, Cassar wished to show his work for the benefit of the Republic of Venice, so he got permission from the Grand Master and Council to leave Malta for that purpose. On his return he continued his works in Valletta to the great satisfaction of the whole Convent. He was honoured by the Order in various manners – his two sons were also received in the Religion as servants-at-arms, the elder of whom, having taken his father’s


profession, made rapid advances in fortification : designing the well known tower of Sarza on the shore of the island of Gozo. Cassar’s major works including all the buildings of Valletta designed before the year 1581 including the Auberges; the Magisterial palace; his masterpiece the Conventual Church of Saint John; Valletta’s Parish Churches of Saint Paul and Saint Domenic’s; the Carmelite church – now demolished; the church of Saint Augustine; the ta’ Giezu church; the Order’s Bakery; the mills as well as several private houses. Not mentioned are all his works done outside the walls of Valletta.

Dingli, Tommaso
A Maltese architect who was born in Attard in the year 1591 and died in 1666 at the age of 75. He was born at the time when it was necessary to fortify the Island at the greatest speed, and at an early age, in common with other children who showed the slightest inclination towards architecture, he was put to work in an artist’s studio. He designed the old Porta Reale. He is credited with design of many parish churches, to mention a few, those of Attard, Naxxar (1616), Zabbar (1641), Gharghur (1638) and Gudja (1656). His ability was praised by Giovanni de’ Medici, with whom he became friendly.

Ferramolino, Antonio
An Italian military engineer from Bergamo. Very little is known about his early works, but he seems to have gone with Charles V on the successful expedition against Tunis in 1535 and to have served in the campaign in Sicily. In 1541 he was sent by Charles V to Malta to give service to the Order, and he lived on the Island for many years. It was he who first suggested the building of a powerful fortress on the hill behind Fort Saint Elmo, where Valletta now stands; as he said, this position would command both ports and bar them to an enemy. He was involved in the various preparations of the fortifications of Birgu in the years before the Great Siege of 1565 – it is not our scope to discuss these in this project.

Floriani, Pietro Paolo
An Italian military engineer born at Macerata in 1585 and died in 1638. He have embarked on a brilliant career of enlarging the fortresses of Europe and his own reputation; and often with little respect for the military necessity and the financial consideration of his clients; a fault to his age. In 1627 he was nominated Castellan of the Castle of Saint Angelo in Rome and Governor of the armies in Umbria. It was then that he visited Rome and complied his treatise on Difesa et ofesa delle piazze. At the close of 1634, Pope Urban VIII received a request from the Grand Master of the Order for the services of an able military architect. Floriani was chosen and arrived on the island in the following year. On the high ground beyond the land defenses of Valletta he built a great walled enceinte upon a rectangular plan, with elaborate ditches, lunettes, teneille and counterguards : the whole complex being dominated by a horn works of great size. His work came in for considerable criticism and returned to Italy disgusted with the turn of events. Another Italian engineer and a Commission to investigate the dissatisfaction were requested, and Cardinal Vincenzo Maculano da Firenzuola d’ Arda was sent to Malta by the Pope. Floriani was to some extent vindicated, and the defenses were carried on to completion. Both these defenses and the new suburb, which grew up in the shelter of their walls, were named after their designer – Floriana.


Gerolamo Cassar

Francesco Laparelli da Cortona


Genga, Bartolomeo
An Italian military engineer born at Cesena, Italy in 1516 and died in Malta in 1559. He studied painting and architecture, first under his father and later in Rome and Florence, which he visited about the age of twenty-one. He served as an engineer to the Pope and Duke Cosimo, who sent him to review the mainland fortresses of Venice. At the end of 1558 the Grand Master requested his services in Malta and sent Cesare Visconti to Pesaro to obtain the permission of the Grand Duke. After a lot of difficulty, Genga was permitted to sail with Visconti on January 20th, 1558 and they landed in Malta on March 11th after being delayed by bad weather off Sicily. Genga prepared to fortify the Birgu, Saint Elmo and L’Isola Senglea, and required the whole population to be put to work on these new fortifications. He also enlarged the bulwarks and ditches in front of the posts of Provence, Auvergne, France, Aragon and Castille – which paid dividends during the Great Siege. He also sent galleys of the Order to Comino, Gozo and as far as Sicily in search of brushwood and firewood. Finding that both the Birgu and the Fort of Saint Michael were too low to fortify adequately, and because the Order’s coffers seemed well filled, he again broached the subject of a new city on the hill behind Fort Saint Elmo and prepared a model. His plan included a large area than that which was later laid out by Laparelli, and its front extended forward towards the Marsa so that the guns would cover the high ground at Corradino and the water hole on the Mars, to prevent the enemy making use of them. Nothing was done on the new city because of the need to improve the existing defenses immediately. Genga is also reported to have made designs for some churches and the Magisterial palace. He was the most important Italian architect to visit Malta in the sixteenth century, and although his visit was cut short by his death, he may have helped Gerolamo Cassar and influenced his work.

Grunenberg, Don Carlos de
Military engineer to the King of Spain in Sicily. He arrived in Malta on January 29th 1681 and on March 15th reported to the Council on the state of the fortifications – displaying stone models to illustrate his proposals. The work he proposed was undertaken and in 1687 he paid another visit to the island to inspect the progress. A further report dated February 26th was put before the Council for discussion. Grunenberg proposed that fausse-braie should be built on the foreshore to give sweeping fire across the water and provide better protection for the ports. He also advocated building four new batteries on Fort Saint Angelo. His scheme was approved but the work was deferred until the completion of the Floriana fortifications, because lack of funds. However, Grunenberg generously offered to build three of the new batteries at his own expense.

Lanci d’ Urbino, Baldassare
An Italian military engineer born towards the beginning of the sixteenth century at Urbino and died in Florence in 1571. He was a student of Gerolamo Genga and later spent some time working at Lucca as a military engineer. He was called to Malta to help in the preparations for the defense of the island. According to Bosio he was the most excellent engineer of his day. Lanci made a model of the new city on the hill behind Fort Saint Elmo, which had been proposed by Ferramolino and Genga, but his plan was more practical than Genga’s, for the city proposed was far more smaller. As the front would thus be much shorter he felt that it could be more easily defended. His stay in Malta was for little than


three months, for in August 1562 he wrote to Cosimo on the progress of the Siena Fortifications.

Laparelli da Cortona, Francesco
An Italian architect and military engineer born at Cortona in 1521 and died of plague at Candia (today’s Crete) on October 26th, 1570, at the age of 49. Little is known about his youth except that he worked for Duke Cosimo I and Pius IV, preparing the defenses of Civita Vecchia and Rome and that he corroborated with Michelangelo on the building of Saint Peter’s. Since we have already mentioned Laparelli in the chapter on the Foundation of Valletta we shall now briefly discuss his stay in Malta. Regarding the new city se boasted that “If the Turks do not come it would be harmful and reproachful to leave without being driven away”. He planned several buildings and obviously considered the architectural and town planning aspects. The Codex Laparelli contains on page 1, “the plan in perspective of a noble house of the sixteenth century on two floors”. The second appendix, running to twelve pages, refers to the accounts of expenses made between 21st October 1566 and March 22nd 1567 in respect of a house Laparelli had begun to build in Valletta. This makes it clear that the layout of the streets was considered from the beginning and that the building of houses actually begun before the enceinte of the fortifications was complete.

Menga, Evangelista della
Maltese architect and military engineer practicing in the sixteenth century. He was a teacher of Gerolamo Cassar.

Serbelloni, Gabrio
An Italian military engineer born at Milan in 1509 and died in Italy in January 1580. He was of noble birth and cousin to Pope Pius IV. In his youth he enlisted in the service of the Knights Hospitallers. It was at Cortona that Serbelloni came into contact with Laparelli, an acquaintance he was to renew later in Malta. It was in the year 1561 that the Pope received a request for the services of Serbelloni from the Grand Master. La Valette was willing to invest Serbelloni with the Habit of the Religion and confer on him the Commanderies of Ferrara and Montecchio, in order to acquire the services of such important engineer and soldier. The Pope wanted more and insisted on the conferment of the Priory of Hungary, which was approved in Council on February 29th 1562. He arrived in Malta after the Great Siege, most probably, in 1566. In Malta he was consulted on the plan prepared for the new city of Valletta by Laparelli and this he approved, writing in its praise to the Pope and the King of Spain. Being of a diplomatic disposition he soon gained the confidence of La Valette, who told him of the bad intentions of the Viceroy of Sicily toward the Order. On March 14th, he left Malta and sailed for Messina in a galley of the Order. There he met Don Garzia, the Viceroy, and was so successful in bringing about a reconciliation between the Viceroy and the Grand Master, that the former promised to send immediate aid in the form of money, men and materials, for the building of the new city.




Before ending this project, we must go around Valletta’s fortified walls one final time to admire these great military works-of-art from the air land and sea.

Plate 6 The present Mount Sheb-ir-Ras from South West In this photo we see the present day Valletta’s fortifications in their glory. Omitted, unfortunately, from the photo are the Horn Works, which extend outside the right hand corner of the frame – see Map 1 on page 4. Floriana is in the foreground, while Valletta is in the background. In the next pages we shall see the walls and other fortifications from various angles to admire them and also to learn from them various lessons. The foremost being Valletta was not built in a day – meaning that we have to be patient and work assiduously to achieve anything that will make our parents proud of us like we are proud of our forefathers who have built Valletta through determination and hard work.

Pavla Antonia Meli
Saint Dorothy Convent Mdina March 28th, 1998 – Valletta’s Foundation Day, 432 years later.


Plate 7 North East view – Valletta Landfront.

Plate 8

Landfront view - Saint Michael Counterguard & demi-Bastion, Tenaille, Ditch and Saint John Bastion & Counterguard.


Plate 9

Landfront East view - Saint Michael Counterguard and Sentrybox (guardiola) guarding Marsamxetto Harbour.


Plate 10 Plate 11


Plate 10 North West view of the Valletta Fortifications – left to right – German Curtain, Saint Saviour Bastion, Mandaraggion Curtain, Saint Andrew Bastion, Saint Michael Counterguard & demi-Bastion and Tenaille.

Plate 11 North West view of the Valletta Fortifications – left to right – German Curtain, St. Saviour Bastion, Mandaraggion Curtain. Also visible on the left-hand side of the plate are Saint Paul Anglican Cathedral replacing the demolished the Anglo-German Auberge and the new Carmelite church which replaced the one built by Gerolamo Cassar.

Plate 12 South West view – Valletta Seafront. Right to left : the ones mentioned in Plates 10 & 11, Saint Sebastian Curtain, English Curtain, French Curtain, Saint Gregory Bastion, Saint Gregory Curtain, Conception Bastion, Santa Ubaldesca Curtain, Saint John Bastion (at Saint Elmo), Saint Ubaldesca Curtain, Saint Lazarus Bastion, Saint Lazarus Curtain and Saint Christopher Bastion.

Plate 13 South East view – Left to right : Liesse Curtain Saint, Barbara Bastion, Saint Lucia Curtain, Saint Christopher Bastion and on the extreme right end Saint Lazarus Bastion toped with the World War Two Monument and the Lower Barakka incorporating Sir Alexander Ball Memorial.


Plate 12 Plate 13


Plate 14 Grand Harbour front - Saint Barbara Bastion, Liesse Curtain, Lascaris Counterguard and the Saints Peter and Paul Bastion - (Upper Barakka). On the extreme left of the plate are the Floriana Bastions.

Plate 15 Saint James Curtain. Auberge de Castille dominates this section of the Valletta Fortifications. Granaries are to be found on this Curtain, situated under the landscaped garden in front of Auberge de Castille.


Plate 16 Grand Harbour front – Liesse Curtain, Saint Barbara Bastion, Saint Lucy Curtain, Saint Christopher Bastion and Saint Lazarus Curtain view from Saints Peter and Paul Bastion. On the right of the plate is Fort Ricasoli.

Plate 17 Saints Peter and Paul Bastion and Saint Peter Counterguard. An early seventies view of the Barakka Lift now demolished, however, plans are in hand to re-establish the Lift again.


Plate 18 Saint James Counterguard with Sentrybox overlooking the Grand Harbour.

Plate 19 Grand Harbour flank : from right to left – Lascaris Counterguard, Saints Peter and Paul Bastion, Saint Peter Counterguard with Sentrybox, Saint James Cavalier and Saint James Bastion. On the shoreline one can see the Customs House built by Bonici in 1774 near Mina Lascaris. The Barakka lift is missing from this contemporary postcard – compare with plate 17. Ta’ Liesse Church is to be seen on the extreme right of this palate.


The following is a list of books and other documents consulted for this project :
• • • • • • • •

Valetta , by Temi Zammit Bliet u Rhula Maltin, by Alfie Guillaumier. A History of Maltese Architecture, by Leonard Mahoney A City By An Order, by Roger Degiorgio. The Building of Malta, by Quentin Hughes. The Knights Fortifications, by Stephen Spiteri. Medieval and Early Renaissance Architecture in Malta, by J.B. Ward Malta and Gibraltar, edited by Allister MacMillian. The Fortifications of Malta, by Alison Hoppen Valletta and the three Cities, by Harrison and Hubbard Valletta 1566-1798 an Epitome of Europe, by Victor Mallia Milanes Various Articles in the Times of Malta and other newspaper clippings, Joseph M. Meli Collection.

All the above mentioned works are in the Melitensia Section of my father’s library.

A list of places where various original documents were consulted for this project :

The Library of the Malta University; The National Library of Malta - Valletta.


MAP 1 2 3 4 PLAN 1 2 3 4 5 6 Topology and Geography of Mount Sheb-ir-Ras. The Fortifications of Valletta. Modern-day Valletta. Valletta in the early 1600’s. Fort Saint Elmo. The Chapel of Saint Anne at Saint Elmo. Front Elevation of Fort Saint Elmo. Saint John Cavalier – a cutaway diagram. Saint Michael Counterguard. Cutaway diagram showing various works of the Valletta landfront. Grand Master Jean de la Valette. Medal, Medallion and Patacca. Ariel-view of Fort Saint Elmo. Saint Gregory Bastion. Saint Gregory Bastion & Curtain and Ditch. Saint John Bastion and Saint Ubaldesca Curtain. Fort Saint Elmo – Casemate and Musketery loopholes. The present-day Mount Sheb-ir-Ras. Valletta Lanfront. South West view of the Valletta Bastions - Landfront. Saint Michael Counterguard and Sentrybox. North West view of the Valletta Fortifications. Close up view of plate 10. Valletta Bastions - Seafront. South East view of the Valletta Bastions - Seafront. Grand Harbour Front – view from North. Saint James Curtain. Grand Harbour Front – view from South. Saints Peter and Paul Bastion. Saint James Counterguard. Grand Harbour Front – Customs House area. Coat-of-Arms, Valletta – Malta.


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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20


Plate 20

Coat-of-Arms, Valletta – Malta.