Birgu: An Overview

Birgu is one of the most beautiful towns in all of Malta. Also known as Vittoriosa, it comprises one of the “Three City” areas in the south of Malta. Birgu is conveniently located near the Grand Harbour and right near the ferry to Valletta. The area hosts some majestic fortifications and is also home to historical sites and museums, including Fort St. Elmo, The Inquisitor’s Palace, the Malta at War Museum, and the Malta Maritime Museum. There are plenty of wonderful restaurants, wine bars, and shops, and the area is also great for children.

Birgu: A Walk Through Time

Birgu has a rich history, settled by the Phoenicians, Romans, Arabs, and the Knights of the Order of St. John. Archaeological evidence suggests the site of a Roman Temple, possibly stemming back to the Punic era. During the Arab occupation (870 – 1090 AD), Birgu was an important base. By the early Medieval era, Birgu was occupied by Western European forces. A fort called Castrum Maris was built at the very end of the Birgu peninsula and Birgu’s first Church, St. Lawrence, became established. In 1530, 5he Knights of the Order in chose Birgu as its capital. Castrum Maris was rechristened Fort St. Angelo and Birgu was surrounded by defensive walls. They also built a hospital and auberges. Thirty-five years later, the Ottomans targeted Birgu in the Great Siege of Malta. Legend has it that at the beginning of the invasion, Jean Parisot de Valette, the famous Maltese military commander and Grandmaster, was praying in front of the altar in the Church of St Lawrence, and he laid his sword and hat as a votive offering. (These items are still on display at the Vittoriosa Parish Museum.) The Knights were victorious, earning Birgu’s new title, Città Vittoriosa. The Holy Roman Inquisition established its headquarters in Birgu. Fortifications were continually strengthened, Couvre Portre was installed in 1722, and the Cottonera Lines marked the entranceway to Birgu. Napoleon made his way into Birgu, but was defeated by the British in 1800, by which time Birgu became part of the British protectorate. Fort St. Angelo now became the headquarters of Britain’s naval fleet. Both World Wars took their toll on Birgu. Although Birgu’s hospital played a major role in servicing the wounded during the first World War, the British refused to provide proper funding to rebuild. World War Two was worse. The area was bombed relentlessly by both Italian and German Air Forces. After the war was over, Britain failed to rebuild Birgu. Britain also failed to fully pay the rent of Fort St Angelo until they were forced to leave on 31 March 1979, now celebrated as Freedom Day in Birgu. Now, Birgu has received significant funding, and is a highly desirable neighbourhood and tourist destination. In 2001, the Knights of St. John returned to Birgu, with a 99 year lease in Fort St. Angelo.

Living in Birgu

Birgu makes a wonderful place to live. With its ferries, buses, and lack of traffic, commuting from Birgu is easy. Many flats also offer sea views and there are several historical Houses of Character. Birgu’s many feasts also make it a joyous place to live.

Property for Sale in Birgu