Courtyard Fort St Elmo - War Museum
Fort St Elmo and War Museum
In the thirteenth century, a watchtower and lighthouse stood at the tip of the peninsula of Sciberras. At their arrival in 1530, the Knights of Malta found this tower already in ruins. In 1551, the Ottoman corsair Dragut sailed into the Marxamxetto Harbour (the harbour of Sliema) without meeting any resistance. The Ottomans made a fruitless three-day attempt to besiege Mdina.
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The Knights of the Order chased them away. The Ottoman fleet sailed to Gozo and conquered it. Nearly all men, women and children of Gozo's 6,000 population were carried off in slavery. After this incident it was decided that the existing watchtower at the harbour entrance should be controlled by means of a solid fortress.
The first stone of Fort St Elmo (or St Erasmus, patron-saint of seafarers) was laid on the 14th January 1552. The design of the fort is of a four-pointed star. A moot isolates it from the mainland, and a separate cavalier at the seaside. It was intended as a platform of cannons, not to contain a garrison or to withstand a siege. The main aim was to prevent an enemy fleet to enter the harbour and to disembark. Sieges in those days were carried out with land-based cannons, as the ship cannons were not sufficiently developed for that purpose yet.
The construction of Fort St Elmo was just finished before the Great Siege of 1565. It played a crucial role and slowed down the progress of the Ottomans by a month. When fort St Elmo was finally conquered, to the detriment of many Ottoman casualties, all the remaining Knights of the Order and its soldiers were killed. At present, Fort St Elmo is splendidly restored and houses the War Museum.
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Restored St. Elmo, with Breakwater in the background.
The fort houses also the War museum, with a lot of explanation about WWII.
You will be informed with the help of audiovisual techniques, showcases, etc.
St. Elmo seen from the see.
St. Elmo seen from the Grand Harbor
Film location From the Midnight Express in Fort St. Elmo (not yet renovate).
Film from American 1978, by director Alan Parker (who won two Oscars with this film).
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