The Three Cities is a common name for the trio of fortified Maltese boroughs: Vittoriosa (or previously Birgu), Senglea, and Cospicua. Being originally maritime settlements, they played a great role in Malta’s commerce and culture development. Today the Cities’ inhabitants are sincerely proud of the long history and rich heritage they received from the past as the locations they live in can be fairly considered as the history cradle of the island.
The forts, churches, and bastions situated within the threesome are much older than those of Valetta. The Cities have settled on the Grand Harbour since Phoenician times. From one point of view, these docks have always assured population’s living. From the other one, people used to suffer a lot due to invaders’ threats while rulers of the island were at war.
Vittoriosa is the oldest city among the three ones. Being originally set by the Phoenicians, it preserved in a very good state till the present times. The layout of the today’s city was mostly set in the times of St.John’s Order, after the Knights’ arrival to the island in 1530. The city was chosen as the capital of Malta and it was fortified with St.Angelo’s Fort. The famous siege of 1565 broke out at this particular place. It was a brave opposition when only 8 000 men managed to stand against 30 000 of invaders within more than 4 months. This legendary victory inspired to rename Birgu in Vittoriosa – the city of victory.
Despite the Knights moved to Valetta after some time, the major part of the architecture features they brought to their initial accommodation stayed untouchable. You would definitely like the city’s narrow streets, and also its splendid marina location with numerous cafes near the sea. So if you want to see the most beautiful places of Vittoriosa, you should take a stroll along the winding streets of the ancient part of the city named Collachio. Don’t miss visiting the Inquisitor’s Palace and the Church of St. Dominic situated nearby. Then you should see the Baroque church of San Lawrence, have a rest in one of the fascinating cafes situated at the Marina waterfront and finally leave some time for visiting the unique Maritime Museum.
Senglea was built after the 1551 attack on the L’Isola peninsula, as the city location was previously called. Actually, Senglea is situated on the island which was connected to the Cospicua by the bridge and only after that it became similar to the form of a peninsula. Senglea received its name after the Grandmaster Claude de la Sengle, who managed this city construction. After Senglea stayed unconquered during the Siege of Malta it was called Civitas Invicta by the Grandmaster Jean Parisot de Valette.
The tourists should pay attention to St.Michael’s Fort, the city’s main fortification, which played a great role in Senglea’s history of invasions and defenses and, thus, it became one of its major historic and architectural heritage. Unfortunately, today one can see only the parts of the Fort, which remained standing on their place. Among others attractions of the city are the wonderful views opened around. From Senglea you can observe just splendid views at Valetta. One of the best views will be opened in front of you from the Safe Heaven Gardens. You can also see Vittoriosa’s Fort of St.Angelo from there. The city is also popular for the Jesus Christ the Redeemer statue, which is situated in the Virgin Mary basilica.
As to Cospicua, it is also a very old settlement, which has been originally inhabited in the Neolithic period. But just as in Vittoriosa, the present appearance of the city was laid out in the 17th century. Before the 18th century the city was also called Bormla and this name is sometimes used even nowadays. In 1776 the Knights began to build there a dockyard, which later became the major reason for the city development.
The place now is being restored, developing its marine zone. What you should not miss visiting iCospicua is the Collegiate Church of the Immaculate Conception and the art heritage stored there. Among other attractions you can find Santa Margherita Lines and the Cottonera Lines - the city’s fortifications which left integral. The Vilhena Gate, or else called Saint Helen’s Gate, would also be a worthy place to visit.
Being on Malta you should definitely investigate rich historical and cultural area of the Three Cities, with their tiny streets and awesome marine sights. You will find there more than 50 places of interest you will hardly be able to miss. You should also pay special attention to the island’s inhabitants. The local population is real masters in celebrating festas and holy days. Thus, among the most interesting events held during the year is a Good Friday, for example, or then an Easter when the “Risen Christ” statues are carried through the crowded streets. There are also many other events around the year and guests of the cities can participate them too.