Fortifications of Senglea

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Fortifications of Senglea
Is-Swar tal-Isla
Senglea, Malta
Malta - Senglea - Triq il-31 ta' Marzu + Saint Anne Gate + Fort Saint Michael 02 ies.jpg
Senglea Land Front
Senglea fortifications map.png
Map of Senglea's fortifications as they are today
Senglea is located in Malta
Senglea
Senglea
Coordinates 35°53′4.4″N 14°31′8.1″E / 35.884556°N 14.518917°E / 35.884556; 14.518917
Type City wall
Site information
Owner Government of Malta
Condition Partially intact
Site history
Built 1552–18th century
Built by Order of Saint John
Materials Limestone
Battles/wars Great Siege of Malta (1565)
Siege of Malta (1798–1800)

The fortifications of Senglea (Maltese: Is-Swar tal-Isla) are a series of defensive walls and other fortifications which surround the city of Senglea, Malta. The first fortification to be built was Fort Saint Michael in 1552, and the majority of the fortifications were built over the next decade when it was founded by Grand Master Claude de la Sengle. Modifications continued until the 18th century, but large parts of the fortifications were demolished between the 19th and 20th centuries. Today, all that remain of Senglea's fortifications are the seaward bastions and part of the land front.

Senglea's fortifications have been on Malta's tentative list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 1998, as part of the Knights' Fortifications around the Harbours of Malta.[1]

History[edit]

Map of Senglea (bottom) and Birgu (top) during the Great Siege of Malta

The city of Senglea and its fortifications were built as a result of the attack of 1551. After the attack, the Order of Saint John realized the need to build more defences, and a year later, two forts began to be built. The first of these was Fort Saint Elmo at the tip of the Sciberras Peninsula (now Valletta), while the second was Fort Saint Michael, which was built on a peninsula known as l'Isola. In 1553, the entire peninsula began to be surrounded by fortifications, and was later developed into a city. It was named Senglea after the ruling Grand Master, Claude de la Sengle.[2]

The city played an important role in the Great Siege of Malta of 1565, when it was repeatedly attacked by the invading Ottoman forces. It did not fall, and was given the title of Città Invicta (unconquered city). After the siege, the Order began to build its new capital of Valletta, and in the meantime Senglea was neglected. The architect Francesco Laparelli even proposed that the city should be razed. Eventually, this proposal was ignored and the city's defences were repaired, being completed by 1581.

In the 17th and 18th centuries, various outworks were added. In addition, the Santa Margherita Lines and the Cottonera Lines were built around Senglea's and Birgu's land fronts. These new lines increased the strength of the defensive position, but also reduced the importance of Senglea's land front.

Large parts of Senglea's fortifications on the Corradino side were demolished and rebuilt to make way for part of the Malta Dockyard in the 19th century. The land front was also heavily altered in the early 20th century, but the remaining fortifications were included on the Antiquities List of 1925.[3] The entire city, including parts of its fortifications, was severely damaged by aerial bombardment in World War II.[4]

Parts of the land front and the seaward bastions have been restored in recent years.[5][6]

Layout[edit]

Map of Senglea's fortifications prior to partial demolition in the 19th century

Senglea's fortifications as they are today consist of (listed going clockwise from the land front to the Spur):

  • Sheer Bastion, also known as il-Maċina – a wedge-shaped bastion in Dockyard Creek.[7] A device to mount masts on galleys was originally mounted on top of the rampart.[8][9]
  • A casemated curtain wall linking Sheer Bastion to St. Michael Bastion. The curtain wall contains St. Anne Gate, the main gate of Senglea. Some damage sustained form aerial bombardment in World War II can still be seen on the curtain wall.[10]
  • St. Michael Bastion – the main bastion of Senglea's land front, containing a large echaugette.[11]
  • A curtain wall that originally linked St. Michael Bastion to a demi-bastion along the Corradino side. The demi-bastion was demolished in the 19th century.[13]
  • A long stretch of curtain wall along the Corradino side. The present structure was built in the 19th century, replacing the original fortifications which had to be demolished to make way for the dockyard.[14]
  • The Spur – the seaward bastion of Senglea, facing Valletta. It contains a reconstructed echaugette (the original had been dismantled in World War II), and its top part is now a public garden.[15]
  • A sea-level battery (sometimes referred to as Lower Spur Battery) at the base of the Spur. It was designed by Carlos de Grunenbergh in the 1680s, and it has ten embrasures.[16]

Gallery[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Knights' Fortifications around the Harbours of Malta". UNESCO Tentative List. Archived from the original on 5 September 2015. Retrieved 16 June 2015.
  2. ^ Abela, Joe. "Prominent Sengleans". Isla Local Council. Retrieved 16 June 2015.
  3. ^ "Protection of Antiquities Regulations 21st November, 1932 Government Notice 402 of 1932, as Amended by Government Notices 127 of 1935 and 338 of 1939". Malta Environment and Planning Authority. Archived from the original on 19 April 2016.
  4. ^ "L-Isla (Città Invicta)". lc.gov.mt. Retrieved 10 June 2015.
  5. ^ "Restoration of Senglea Land front and Gateway". MilitaryArchitecture.com. Retrieved 8 September 2015.
  6. ^ "€500,000 restoration for Senglea bastions". Malta Today. 17 January 2015. Retrieved 6 January 2016.
  7. ^ "Casemated rampart on left extremity of landfront (il-Macina) - Senglea" (PDF). National Inventory of the Cultural Property of the Maltese Islands. 28 June 2013. Retrieved 13 July 2015.
  8. ^ "Regeneration project for landmark Macina bastion building receives green light". Malta Today. 16 May 2013. Retrieved 16 June 2015.
  9. ^ Cassar Pullicino, Joseph (October–December 1949). "The Order of St. John in Maltese folk-memory" (PDF). Scientia. 15 (4): 159. Archived from the original (PDF) on 17 April 2016.
  10. ^ "Casemated rampart with Main Gate - Senglea" (PDF). National Inventory of the Cultural Property of the Maltese Islands. 28 June 2013. Retrieved 13 July 2015.
  11. ^ "St Michael Bastion - Senglea" (PDF). National Inventory of the Cultural Property of the Maltese Islands. 28 June 2013. Retrieved 13 July 2015.
  12. ^ "St Michael Cavalier - Senglea" (PDF). National Inventory of the Cultural Property of the Maltese Islands. 28 June 2013. Retrieved 13 July 2015.
  13. ^ "Curtain near St Michael Bastion - Senglea" (PDF). National Inventory of the Cultural Property of the Maltese Islands. 28 June 2013. Retrieved 13 July 2015.
  14. ^ "Enceinte along Corradino side - Senglea" (PDF). National Inventory of the Cultural Property of the Maltese Islands. 28 June 2013. Retrieved 13 July 2015.
  15. ^ "The Spur - Senglea" (PDF). National Inventory of the Cultural Property of the Maltese Islands. 28 June 2013. Retrieved 13 July 2015.
  16. ^ "Grunenburg's sea-level battery - Senglea" (PDF). National Inventory of the Cultural Property of the Maltese Islands. 28 June 2013. Retrieved 13 July 2015.

External links[edit]