Lascaris Towers

The Lascaris Towers are a series of mostly small coastal watchtowers built in Malta by the Order of Saint John between 1637 and 1652.

The Italian knight Giovanni Paolo Lascaris was elected Grand Master of the Order of St. John on 16 June 1636. Unlike the earlier Wignacourt towers which were personally funded by the Grand Master, the cost of the Lascaris towers was paid by the Universita. Construction of the first tower, located near Gnejna Bay, began in 1637. Another six towers were built within the following year.

Six of the seven original towers were coastal watchtowers, built on or near the sites of medieval watch posts. The only Lascaris tower which is located inland is the Nadur Tower at Binġemma Gap, which was built to facilitate communication between the other towers and the fortified city of Mdina.

Most of the towers were decommissioned in the 19th century, but some saw use again in World War II. By the end of the 20th century, most of the nine surviving towers were in a rather dilapidated state. St. Agatha's Tower and Lippija Tower were in a particularly bad state, and were in danger of collapsing. All towers were restored between the late 1990s and 2013. Today, Għajn Tuffieħa, St. Agatha's and Dwejra Towers are open to the public.

Saint Agatha`s tower

Saint Agatha`s tower is a fortification that had been used for protecting Malta from the attacks of Turkish army. The tower had been served the war purposes up to the 20th century and nowadays it is still been used by Maltese army. It is built of bricks painted in red color that's why it is also called “red tower”.

The building is a square construction with four small towers that were used for overview of the sea. The exterior walls of the towers have the thickness of about 4 meters. In order to get to the tower you are to go through the flight of the stairs and then the drawbridge separating the stairs from the main door. At the bottom of the tower a small saint Agatha`s chapel is situated. It was the chapel that gave the name to the tower.

The tower was erected in the period between 1647 and 1649 on the order of Grand Master Lascaris. War architect Antonio Garsin was in charge of designing the tower. It had been used as the main outpost of Maltese western coast where the garrison of about 30 people carried its service. The tower was capable to resist the siege of up to 40 days. In the 18th century the tower was strengthened by additional cannon battery that had been used during the British reign. In the 20th century the radar station was established here and nowadays it is still been used in such way.

By the end of the 20th century the state of the tower left much to be desired. The building needed capital repair that was handed in the period between 1999 and 2001. As the result of the reconstruction the ruined upper towers were completely restored, the walls and the roof were rebuilt and repainted. Nowadays saint Agatha`s tower is a popular tourist attraction and one of the symbols of Maltese state. Its visitors can learn about its history by watching a documentary. A museum and a souvenir store are nowadays working in the tower.

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