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|Three Cities of Malta
The Three Cities (Maltese : It-Tlett Ibliet) is a collective description of the three fortified cities of Vittoriosa, Senglea and Cospicua in Malta. The oldest of the Three Cities is Vittoriosa, 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 (Maltese : Il-Kottonera) 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.
Some inhabitants speak the Cottonera Dialect, most common among locals.
Vittoriosa has been settled since the time of the Phoenicians, but the current city dates back from the time of the Order of Saint John. Vittoriosa 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 Vittoriosa, 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 Vittoriosa 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 Vittoriosa. 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 Vittoriosa nor 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 Vittoriosa (Vittoriosa) and 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 Vittoriosa 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. While Senglea is the 52nd most populated locality on the island, due to its incredibly small land area, it is the 2nd most densely populated locality after Sliema.
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 Saint Michael was a small fort in the land front of the city of Senglea, Malta. It was originally built in the 1552 and it played a significant role in the Great Siege of Malta of 1565. Following the siege, it was rebuilt as Saint Michael Cavalier, and it was completed in 1581. The cavalier was partially demolished in the 20th century, and only a part of its base still exists today.
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 Catalan knight of Crown 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 Bormla and Birgu, Malta. They were built in the 17th and 18th centuries on higher ground and further outwards than the earlier line of fortifications, known as the Santa Margherita or Firenzuola lines, which also surround Bormla.
The Floriana Lines are a line of fortifications in Floriana, Malta, which surround the fortifications of Valletta and form the capital city's outer defences. Construction of the lines began in 1636 and they were named after the military engineer who designed them, Pietro Paolo Floriani. The Floriana Lines were modified throughout the course of the 17th and 18th centuries, and they saw use during the French blockade of 1798–1800. Today, the fortifications are still largely intact but rather dilapidated and in need of restoration.
Malta is for non-local government purposes divided into districts as opposed to the local government localities. The three main types of such districts – statistical, electoral at national level, and policing – have no mainstream administrative effect as the local councils form the first-tier – moreover only administrative tier – divisions of the country.
Post codes in Malta are seven-character strings that form part of a postal address in Malta. Post codes were first introduced in 1991 by the mail operator MaltaPost. Like those in the United Kingdom and Canada, they are alphanumeric.
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.
Hospitaller Malta, officially the Monastic State of the Order of Malta, and known within Maltese history as the Knights' Period, was a polity which existed between 1530 and 1798 when the Mediterranean islands of Malta and Gozo were ruled by the Order of St. John of Jerusalem. It was formally a vassal state of the Kingdom of Sicily, and it came into being when Emperor Charles V granted the islands as well as the city of Tripoli in modern Libya to the Order, following the latter's loss of Rhodes in 1522. Hospitaller Tripoli was lost to the Ottoman Empire in 1551, but an Ottoman 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 hundreds 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.
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 French invasion of Malta was the successful invasion of the islands of Malta and Gozo, then ruled by the Order of St. John, by the French First Republic led by Napoleon Bonaparte in June 1798 as part of the Mediterranean campaign of the French Revolutionary Wars.
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 Cottonera, 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.