Vittoriosa Tourist Attractions
Vittoriosa (pop. 4,000) is the second oldest town in Malta. Under the name of Birgu, which it bore before the Great Siege of 1565, it was already known in ancient times.
The Phoenicians built a temple here, the remains of which are overlaid by the ruins of a Roman temple. Originally the pan of Malta's former inland capital, Median, Birgu was already protected by modest fortifications before the coming cribs Knights. Dating from the Aragonese period, these were strengthened in the time of the Grand Master, Juan de Homedes (1536-63); the bastions of Fort St Angelo were built, separated from the town by a moat with a drawbridge. Thanks to this felt, together with Fort St Elmo on the opposite side of the harbor and the neighboring Fort St Michael, the Knights were able to beat off the Turkish attack.Birgu then became the Headquarters of the Order, previously in Mdina. From the period of the Knights there remain a number of auberges (inns), the Inquisitor's Palace and St Lawrence's Church, the first conventual church of the Order The church contains the award and hat of the Grand Master, La Valette, founder of Valletta.
Collegiate Church of St Lawrence
This is one of the most historically venerated churches in Malta. A church was built on this site in 1090. At the beginning of the 16th century this church was enlarged and on their arrival in 1530, the knights of the Order adopted it as their first conventual church. Two years later it was severely damaged by fire, destroying many of the treasures the Order brought from Rhodes. The church was later restored. Pope John Paul visited the church in 1990 to celebrate its 900th anniversary.The interior of the church is very richly decorated, with statues, marble-Latin cross and paintings.
In front of the Collegiate Church of St Lawrence is the monument honoring the end of the 179-year Anglo-Maltese relationship. It was unveiled on March 31, 1979, the day HMS London and the Royal Navy left the Grand Harbor. The statue depicts a naval rating bidding adieu to a Maltese citizen.
The Naval Bakery was built in 1841 on the site of the Order's principal arsenal and slipway. It remained in service for more than 100 years and in July, 1992 the first phase of its conversion into the Maritime Museum was inaugurated.The exhibits encompass diverse aspects of maritime history from marine archeology to instruments used by Customs officers. Most notable are a fine painting of the Order's galley squadron engaging Muslim ships off Alexandria in 1644, two rare French cannons and a massive reconstructed Roman anchor.
St Joseph's Chapel
The 18th century chapel is now a fascinating and comprehensive little museum full of social, ecclesiastical and military paraphernalia. Its most treasured possessions are the hat and sword of Grand Master de la Vallette. Among the other exhibits are the last white ensign from the HMS St Angelo, eight pennant flags from each of the different langues, a well-thumbed pack of cards from 1609, an 18th century sedan chair, a Latin Vulgatae bible printed in 1598 in Venice, and a 16th century Venetian atlas.
TheInquisitor's Palace is a dull building where the Pope's envoy resided; the courtroom and cells are quite tame.The palace is built around three small courtyards, and rooms sprout from them and the main staircase like a maze. On the ceiling, above the main stair, is the inquisitor's emblem: four linked black and white crosses. The principal room at the top of the stairs displays the coat of arms of each inquisitor.
This was the center of Vittoriosa's life for hundreds of years. Starting at the northwest corner of the square, in St Anthony Street, was the old Jewish ghetto before 1530. The Victory Monument (commemorating the Turks' defeat) was erected in 1705 and the white statue of Vittoriosa's patron, St Lawrence, in 1880. Note the iron railing on the former shows the sword and cross pinning down the Turkish crescent.
Valletta - Church of Our Lady of Victories
In Victory Square is the Church of Our Lady of Victories. Here the foundation-stone of Valletta was laid in 1566.This was the first church built by the Knights of St John, to commemorate their victory in the Great Siege of 1565. Grand Master de Vallette laid the foundation stone and was initially buried here before being interred in St John's Co-Cathedral. Grand Master Perellos altered the facade of the building in 1690 and placed the bust of Pope Innocent XI above the door.
Fort St Angelo
The fort was built in the ninth century on primitive fortifications that already existed at the site. This was to be the final stand during the Great Siege of 1565, but the Turks were beaten before the war got that far.The fort remains a monument to Malta's strategic role in the military and religious conflicts that bedeviled the central Mediterranean for the last 1,000 years.
Auberge de Anglettere
The old English auberge is being restored as a government museum. The house next door was the private residence of Sir Oliver Starkley, Master de Valette's secretary who has the singular honor of being interred next to his master in St John's Co-Cathedral.
Auberge de France
This is the first and grandest of the auberges. The window at the top of the right of the building was a later addition and ruins the otherwise calm symmetry of the facade. The auberge was until recently a museum of political history and it is believed the site of the Auberge d'Aragon was to its right.
Although the house has almost fallen down through neglect, the first floor 15th century twin Siculo-Norman window and frieze are still in reasonable repair. The only other pre-1530 relic in Vittoriosa is a 14th century window inside Fort St Angelo.
The large building almost at the edge of Victory Square was one of the first L'Isle Adam constructed in 1531. In the mid 1600s, and after the new Sacra Infermeria in Valletta was operational, the hospital was transferred to the Benedictine convent where it is today.
The German auberge was given a new facade after it was bombed by the Axis in World War II. The large squat bollard in front marks the beginning of the collachio, the knights' living quarter.
Gate of Provence
This simple main gate into town was restored in the early 18th century. Two other entrances into the city, the elaborately carved Advanced Gate and the Couvre Porte Gate, are to the left and behind the Poste d'Aragon.
Auberge d'Auvergne et Provence
This was the shared home of the knights of these two langues. After the 1571 move to Valletta, each built their own auberge.
Poste de Castile
On August 7, during the 1565 Great Siege, 4,000 Turkish soldiers attacked the Poste de Castile and came close to breaching the defenses.
This was built in 1542 and enlarged in the 17th century.
Map of Vittoriosa Attractions