Birgu Ditch (Birgu Foss)

Triq P. Boffa, Birgu show on map

Birgu Ditch (Birgu Foss) is a new attraction of this small, but famous Maltese city, which has yet to be discovered by tourists. This historic site is a main ditch between powerful defensive walls of Birgu’s fortifications and a part of Knights' Fortifications around the Harbors of Malta, which are protected by the Maltese authorities as an object of cultural heritage.

At the beginning of the 16th century, after the loss of Rhodes, the Knights Hospitaller moved to Malta and started to construct defensive fortifications in Grand Harbour, while Birgu was chosen as the Order’s capital due to its excellent location for naval purposes. During the construction, a wide main ditch was arranged between St. John and St. James bastions, containing a casemated battery. In 1565 the fortifications had to withstand the violent attacks of the Turks during the famous Great siege of Malta. After the siege, the Order changed its capital moving to Valetta, and the old defensive lines lost their significance.

Birgu’s fortifications were rebuilt in the 18th century, when the main ditch was spanned by a large caponier (a fortified structure arranged inside a ditch to shoot from in case of attack). It was discovered during restoration of Birgu’s fortifications, which began in 2008 and is still in progress.

In January 2016, Birgu Ditch (Birgu Foss) was opened after the restoration, offering visitors comfortable walkways, which lead between the powerful walls to the refurbished casemated battery and caponier, as well as to an age-old sally-port running down to nearby Kalkara village. Tourists can observe multiple entrances in the walls, which were used by civilians during WWII as a shelter from bombings. However, some of them date back to the Knights of St. John times, when a countermine gallery was located there. In order to help visitors in better understanding of Birgu Ditch architectural and historical elements, a number of interpretation panels are installed along the walkways, designed in a proper laconic style.

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