The Three Cities – Vittoriosa (Birgu)
How it is possible that I didn’t go here earlier?! How many times I was gazing and staring the view about the Three Cities from Valletta waterfront and somehow never came to my mind to go there and discover it. Well, now I did it. There will be three different articles about the three towns and I have to start with my favorite one: Vittoriosa (Birgu).
The Three Cities is a collective description of the fortified cities of Vittoriosa (Birgu), Cospicua (Bormla) and Senglea (Isla), which are enclosed by a line of fortification created by the Maltese Knights
They are all located on the other side of the Grand Harbour from Valletta and were the first home of the Knights. Considering their localization, Vittoriosa and Senglea are situated on two different peninsulas facing each other and Cospicua is the one, which is somehow connecting them. This is how they are forming the Cottonera Lines, however Kalkara (facing Vittoriosa) is usually included in the line as well. The expression Cottonera is coming from the name of Grand Master Cottoner.
Vittoriosa is the oldest one of the three. In 1530 the Knights after their arrival decided to settle in Birgu, as Mdina was too far inland. During the World War II more than 60% of its buildings were wiped out. The original name Birgu is coming from Borgo (Il Borgo del Castello). Birgu was one of the first latin names used in Malta. Il Borgo del Castello (Castle by the Sea) today is called Fort St. Angello. Later the Knights renamed the city to Vittoriosa as the Victorious city after the victory of the Great Siege in 1565.
Vittoriosa is the smallest and the oldest of the three cities but the richest in history. The historic Vittoriosa Waterfront contains the former Palace of the General of the Galleys and the Order St. John’s treasury. Famous buildings within Birgu include the Sacra Infermeria, the Inquisitor’s Palace, the Maritime Museum and also the famous Fort St. Angelo. The waterfront is very modern with the yacht marina and all the cafes, restaurants and casinos around.
It definitely worth a walk around, especially with the sunset up against it, so all the buildings are shining in sunlight ‘till the last moment before the sun goes down.