This year marks 450 years since the epic battles of the Great Siege of Malta. Heritage Malta and the Arts Council of Malta have been marking the anniversary of one of the most famous sieges in history with a number of special events throughout 2015. The culmination of this special anniversary year is an international exhibition being held in the Palace State Rooms at the Grand Master’s Palace in Valletta.
From the 4th September – 6th December 2015, “450 Years – The Great Siege of Malta” will showcase an impressive collection of objects from this incredible period in history. Visitors will be transported in time to experience and explore the Ottoman invasion of Malta and learn about how, against all the odds, the island was successfully defended.
In May 1565, the Knights of St John, led by Grand Master La Valette, defended the island of Malta against the awesome might of the Ottoman fleet. As 40,000 Ottoman troops lay siege to the people of Malta, the Knights of St John defended Fort St Elmo for a month, inflicting heavy losses on the Ottomans before conceding the Fort. They went on to successfully defend Fort St Angelo and hold off the Ottoman force until reinforcements arrived in September, with the fleet of Don Garcia. The Ottoman Empire was finally repelled and defeated on the 8th September 1565. This epic battle has been celebrated on Il-Vitorja (Victory Day), the 8th September, ever since.
The exhibition, in collaboration with the National Library of Malta, is based on the war diary kept by Francesco Balbi di Correggio. More than 150 artifacts from collections all over the world will be on display, together for the first time in 200 years. Some of these objects have never been displayed in public before. Weapons and suits of armour that survived from the battle, together with historical documents from the period will be on display. There are a number of interactive displays, including a virtual meeting with Grand Master de la Valette himself.
The exhibition is open all week (closed Thursday) from 10.00 (09.00 at weekends) – 16.30. So take the opportunity to learn about this important part of Maltese history and commemorate the anniversary of a battle, which shaped the Mediterranean 450 years ago.