The Lascaris war rooms are a museum that gives an insight into the history of Malta during the Second World War. This system of tunnels deep in the rock is quite interesting in and of itself, but the status of a secret military facility, which served as wartime headquarters for Allied forces operations, adds excitement and great historical value to this unusual site.
The local underground facilities are known since the 17Th century, when they were used by the Knights Hospitaller as slave quarters. In those days the Order was headed by Giovanni Paolo Lascaris, who ordered to plant a garden not far from the tunnels, and his name was given to the garden. In the middle of the 19th century, instead of the garden an artillery battery was built there, which was also named after the Grand Master.
At the beginning of WWII, after Italy entered the war in 1940, the British command of Maltese army garrison started building a secret complex in the tunnels beneath Lascaris Bastion. It was aimed at housing a number of fighting services involved in the defense of Malta and multiple military operations in the Mediterranean Sea. The war rooms were equipped with automatic ventilation, cryptographic devices, telephone sets and other equipment allowing to quickly collect and analyze information from the theater of operations and to coordinate actions of various service arms and military units.
By 1943, British military engineers had expanded the underground facilities to house the Allied headquarters under the command of General Dwight Eisenhower, who was elected the 34th U.S. President later. Along with other Supreme Commanders, from the Lascaris war rooms he held control over the Invasion of Sicily, which led to the liberation of the island from the German and Italian troops.
Nowadays, tourists can visit Eisenhower's room among other premises of the museum, where authentic interior scene and atmosphere of the wartime were reconstructed with great care. Visitors are offered to walk along dim underground corridors through heavy doors and down steel ladders to multiple operations rooms, full of information boards, military maps, telephone switchboards and mannequins dressed in WWII uniforms. Interesting guided tours are available for those visitors, who want to learn more about Malta’s contribution in WW2.