Fortifications of Valletta

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Valletta, the capital of Malta, is surrounded by numerous fortifications. In the period of Middle Ages and Renaissance they performed the defensive function, successfully protecting a small island state from enemy armies willing to take possession over its territory.

The first building from impregnable fortifications of Malta dates back to the year 1488 – it was the military watching-tower, constructed by order of the representatives of the Spain Aragon Royal dynasty. In 1533 the tower was strengthened, but the further building was paused. In 1551 the island sustained the attack of the army of the Ottoman Empire, in which the tower was destroyed. The representatives of Saint John`s knight order became concerned about the construction of more secure fortifications, and in 1552 the famous Saint Elmo`s fort was erected.

The construction justified itself in the nearest decade when, thanks to this fortification, the island sustained The Great Siege of Malta: in the period from the 18th of May to the 11th of September 1565 the troops of the Ottoman Empire stormed the fortress, intending to seize the territory of Malta, but failed to do it. During the Siege the Saint Elmo`s fort was almost completely destroyed and it had to be rebuilt.

After these events it was decided to build the city which had to be a strategically important point of the state and in 1566 the foundation stone of the city was laid by the actual Master of Saint John`s order Jean de Valette, whose surname gave the name to the capital of Malta. While building the new city the issue of fortification needed to be considered with all seriousness. The most prominent specialists of that time were invited for working out the scheme of fortifications, among them was the military engineer Francesco Laparelli, previously working for the famous family of the Dukes Medici and the military architect Girolamo Cassar. The building was finished in 1570 and on the 18th of March 1571 it became the capital of Malta.

It is obvious, that nowadays the fortifications are not being used according to their direct function, but every stone of every tower preserves memories about historic battles where brave defendants of Malta participated. Nowadays the fortifications of Valetta are an interesting and popular tourist object, on the territory of which several war museums are located. Besides, the visitors can see theatrical performances of knight tournaments and see the historical reconstruction of the heroic battles of the past.

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