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|Three Cities of Malta|
|Cospicua - Vittoriosa - Senglea|
The Three Cities is a collective description of the three fortified cities of Birgu, Senglea and Cospicua in Malta.The oldest of the Three Cities is Birgu, which has existed since prior to the Middle Ages. The other two cities, Senglea and Cospicua, were both founded by the Order of Saint John in the 16th and 17th centuries. The Three Cities are enclosed by the Cottonera Lines, along with several other fortifications. The term Cottonera is synonymous with the Three Cities, although it is sometimes taken to also include the nearby town of Kalkara.
Together, the Three Cities have a total population of 10,808 people as of March 2014.
Birgu has been settled since the time of the Phoenicians, but the current city dates back from the time of the Order of Saint John. Birgu was chosen as the capital city of Malta instead of Mdina upon the arrival of the Order in 1530. After the 1551 attack, Senglea was built on the peninsula known as L'Isola. In Birgu, Fort Saint Angelo was built on the site of the ancient Castrum Maris, and Fort Saint Michael was built on Senglea.
The cities were besieged during the Great Siege of Malta of 1565, and after the siege was lifted Birgu was given the title of Città Vittoriosa and Senglea the title of Città Invicta. In the aftermath of the siege, the city of Valletta was built, and in 1571 the new city became the capital instead of Birgu. The cities' fortifications were strengthened during the reign of Grandmaster Nicolas Cotoner, and in 1722, Grandmaster Marc'Antonio Zondadari gave the town of Bormla the title of Città Cospicua.
The Cottonera lines or rather Civitas Cotonera was intended as a city surrounded by fortifications. These impressive fortifications were built according to the plan of Antonio Maurizio Valperga on four of the five hills of Bormla. Originally intended as a much larger defense system which would encompass the Corradino hill and extend over Kalkara to Ricasoli, the final plan intended for the Citta Cottonera to be a city with the fort St. Margerita as a citadel at its centre. The beginning to construction began on 28 August 1670 with great solemnity as follows: 'On that day a general procession of all the regular orders walked from the Parish Church of Burmula, led by the prior of the convent church, who held the famous relic of St. John, glorious protector of the Holy Religion followed by the Grand Master, all the knights and a lot of citizens walked towards the hill, where the bastion of S. Niccolo was planned; here and there, with the usual ceremonies, and blessings, the Grand Master Fra Nicola Cotoner cast various coins bearing his and the city’s mark within the foundations of the wall, as also did the Knights of the Grand Cross while they invoked the Divine help. The foundation stone was laid with the firing of the guns of all the fortresses.' The six kilometre fortification encircles Bormla with a series of bastions and triumphal baroque gateways.
A detail from the cartouche by Albert Clouet of the Civitas Cotonera, shows a central castle or fort; the Fort Santa Margerita surrounded by the present day Cottonera lines with new buildings, palaces and gardens with the Dockyard Creek and most importantly, it shows Bormla forming an essential part of Civitas Cotonera. These areas in Bormla within Clouet's cartouche were and are still spread over 3 areas in present-day Bormla; the lower Santa Margerita area, the Verdala/St. Helen's area and the Dock No. 1/St.Paul's area. Albert Clouet's cartouche excludes the peninsulas of the two neighbouring cities, so it is quite evident that neither Birgu (Vittoriosa) nor Isla (Senglea) were ever intended to form part of Civitas Cotonera. With the death of Grand Master Cotoner critics of the design discontinued work claiming that it would not withstand a siege. Numerous people of note have affirmed this claim and have even gone as far as to say that the Cottonera lines are not siege proven. The blockade by the British and the Maltese uprising against the French who had to defend their position by locking themselves within the Cottonera lines for well over a year should be sufficient proof that these claims are spurious. With the discontinuation of work on the Civitas Cotonera, the Fort St. Margarita continued with different redesigns by various Grand Masters to its present appearance as a line of bastions.
It is safe to say that by the 1670, the fortifications of Birgu(Vittoriosa) and Isla(Senglea) were grossly outdated so the building of the Cottonera fortifications during the reign of Grandmaster Nicolas Cotoner were intended to protect the harbour and Valletta from the landward side against possible attacks by the Ottomans landing at Marsaxlokk.
Bormla's ancient name of Burmula has been defined as Phoenician or Punic which indicates this city's ancient origins. In his book Notizie Storiche Sull' Etimologia Dei Nomi, Achille Ferris explains that ‘Burmula’ is made up of the words ‘Bur’ and ‘Mula’; ‘Bur’ for ‘place’ and ‘Mula’ for ‘high’; an eminent place. Bormla’s domination in height over the surrounding areas tends to corroborate this version. In the book Della lingua punica presentemente usata da maltesi &c, Giovanni Pietro Francesco Agius de Soldanis refers to the t'Ghuxa area in Bormla and the ancient name of Burmula itself as proof that these have Punic origins. The meaning of these words in themselves indicate that Burmula was regarded as an eminent place that stands out - a conspicuous place hence the term 'Cospicua' is as ancient as the name 'Burmula' because it is a direct translation of the site's Phoenician name. It is said that in 1722 on seeing the Bormla's eminence and double line of fortifications that surround it, Grand Master Marc'Antonio Zondadari, honoured the town by proclaiming it as a city, hence the term: Città Cospicua - The Conspicuous City.
During World War II, the Three Cities were heavily bombed by the Italians and Germans, and they were rebuilt in the 1950s and 1960s. Many people from the educated and professional classes moved out of the Cottonera area after the war, and the cities were subsequently repopulated by people from the working class. The area subsequently had higher levels of illiteracy, unemployment and people on welfare when compared to the rest of Malta. Since the 1990s, several regeneration projects have been carried out, including the establishment of the Malta Maritime Museum in Birgu and the American University of Malta in Cospicua.
Birgu, also known by its title Città Vittoriosa, is an old fortified city on the south side of the Grand Harbour in the South Eastern Region of Malta. The city occupies a promontory of land with Fort Saint Angelo at its head and the city of Cospicua at its base. Birgu is ideally situated for safe anchorage, and over time it has developed a very long history with maritime, mercantile and military activities.
Senglea, also known by its title Città Invicta, is a fortified city in the South Eastern Region of Malta. It is one of the Three Cities in the Grand Harbour area, the other two being Cospicua and Vittoriosa, and has a population of approximately 2,720 people. The city's title Città Invicta was given because it managed to resist the Ottoman invasion at the Great Siege of Malta in 1565. The name Senglea comes from the Grand Master who built it Claude de la Sengle and gave the city a part of his name.
Kalkara is a village in the South Eastern Region of Malta, with a population of 3,014 as of March 2014. The name is derived from the Latin word for lime (Calce), and it is believed that there was a lime kiln present there since Roman times. Kalkara forms part of the inner harbour area and occupies the area around Kalkara Creek. The town has its own Local Council and is bordered by the cities of Birgu and Żabbar, as well as the town of Xgħajra.
Cospicua, also known by its titles Città Cospicua or Civitas Cottonera, is a double-fortified harbour city in the South Eastern Region of Malta. Along with Birgu and Senglea, it is one of the Three Cities, located within the Grand Harbour to the east of the capital city Valletta. With a population of 5,395 as of March 2014, it is the most dense city of the Three Cities.
Fort St. Angelo is a bastioned fort in Birgu, Malta, located at the centre of the Grand Harbour. It was originally built in the medieval period as a castle called the Castrum Maris. It was rebuilt by the Order of Saint John as a bastioned fort called Fort Saint Angelo between the 1530s and the 1560s, and it is best known for its role as the Order's headquarters during the Great Siege of Malta of 1565. A major reconstruction to designs of Carlos de Grunenbergh took place in the 1690s, giving the fort its current appearance.
The Grand Harbour, also known as the Port of Valletta, is a natural harbour on the island of Malta. It has been substantially modified over the years with extensive docks, wharves, and fortifications.
Fra' Nicolás Cotoner y de Oleza was a Spanish knight of Aragon who served as the 61st Prince and Grand Master of the Order of Malta, between 1663 and 1680. He was the son of Marc Antoni Cotoner i de Santmartí and brother of the previous Grandmaster, Rafael Cotoner.
The Cottonera Lines, also known as the Valperga Lines, are a line of fortifications in Cospicua and Birgu, Malta. They were built in the 17th and 18th centuries to form the outer defences of the Three Cities of Birgu, Senglea and Cospicua. They surrounded an earlier line of fortifications, known as the Santa Margherita Lines.
Malta is subdivided in districts of localities in order to administer the country in regions rather than locality. The districts have no administrative significance as the local councils provide the first-tier divisions of the country.
The coastline of Malta consists of bays, sandy beaches, creeks, harbours, small villages, cities, cliffs, valleys, and other interesting sites. Here, there is a list of these different natural features that are found around the coast of Malta.
Malta Xlokk, also known as the South Eastern Region, was a region of Malta between 1993 and 2009. It was located on the main island of Malta, bordering Malta Majjistral. It included the capital Valletta. The name referred to the Sirocco wind, which is Xlokk in Maltese.
Malta was ruled by the Knights Hospitaller, or Order of Saint John, as a vassal state of the Kingdom of Sicily from 1530 to 1798. The islands of Malta and Gozo, as well as the city of Tripoli in modern Libya, were granted to the Order by Spanish Emperor Charles V in 1530, following the loss of Rhodes. The Ottoman Empire managed to capture Tripoli from the Order in 1551, but an attempt to take Malta in 1565 failed.
The fortifications of Malta consist of a number of walled cities, citadels, forts, towers, batteries, redoubts, entrenchments and pillboxes. The fortifications were built over thousands of years, from around 1450 BC to the mid-20th century, and they are a result of the Maltese islands' strategic position and natural harbours, which have made them very desirable for various powers.
The South Eastern Region is one of five regions of Malta. The region includes the southeastern part of the main island of Malta, including the capital Valletta. The region borders the Central and Southern Regions.
Fort San Salvatore, also known as Fort Salvatore, is a retrenched fort in Birgu, Malta. It was built in 1724 on one of the bastions of the Cottonera Lines. It was used as a prisoner-of-war camp during the Greek War of Independence and World War I, and as an internment camp and kerosene depot in World War II.
The Santa Margherita Lines, also known as the Firenzuola Lines, are a line of fortifications in Cospicua, Malta. They were built in the 17th and 18th centuries to protect the land front defences of the cities of Birgu and Senglea. A second line of fortifications, known as the Cottonera Lines, was later built around the Santa Margherita Lines, while the city of Cospicua was founded in the 18th century within the Santa Margherita and Cottonera Lines.
The fortifications of Birgu are a series of defensive walls and other fortifications which surround the city of Birgu, Malta. The first fortification to be built was Fort Saint Angelo in the Middle Ages, and the majority of the fortifications were built between the 16th and 18th centuries by the Order of Saint John. Most of the fortifications remain largely intact today.
The fortifications of Senglea 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.
The Notre Dame Gate, also known as the Notre Dame de la Grace Gate, the Cottonera Gate, the Żabbar Gate or Bieb is-Sultan, is the main gate of the Cottonera Lines, located in Birgu, Malta. The gate was built in 1675 in the Baroque style, and it is currently used as the headquarters of the heritage organization Fondazzjoni Wirt Artna.
The Birgu polverista explosion was the accidental detonation of ammunition in the gunpowder magazine (polverista) of Birgu in the British Malta Protectorate on 18 July 1806. The explosion occurred due to negligence while transferring shells from the magazine, and it resulted in the detonation of 40,000 lb (18,000 kg) of gunpowder. It killed approximately 200 people, including British and Maltese military personnel and Maltese civilians from Birgu. Parts of the city's fortifications, some naval stores, and many houses were destroyed, and the affected area became known as l-Imġarraf.