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Vittoriosa/Vittoriosa waterfront

Birgu, also known as Vittoriosa, is an ancient city in Malta on the south side of the Grand Harbour, which forms part of the three cities and has a population of approximately 2,633. It played a very important role during the Siege of Malta in 1565. 

Birgu’s origins date back to the medieval times and over the years it has developed a very good history in maritime, mercantile and military activities. When the Knights of St. John arrived in Malta, they made Birgu the capital city of Malta, since the former capital, Mdina, was inland and did not suit their naval requirements. Almost as soon as they took up residence, the Knights undertook a series of works designed to improve the fortification at Fort St Angelo and of the whole area of the three cities. These works give Birgu its distinctive architectural character that can be appreciated even today. Birgu was never captured during the hostilities between the Knights and the Ottoman Empire. After the Siege of Malta the Knights transferred themselves in the new capital city Valletta, thus Birgu lost much of its importance. Nevertheless, they gave Birgu the title Città Vittoriosa, meaning Victorious City. When the British took over Malta, the British Navy made Birgu its base in the Mediterranean until 1979, the year Malta became a Republic.

The Knights’ palaces are mostly open to visitors, as is the Inquistor’s Palace where one can still visit the dungeons and the gruesome execution courtyard. The Inquistor’s Palace, which has now been converted into a museum, houses the national museum of ethnography with a collection of historic items related to the Christian values of the Maltese nation. 

Unfortunately, Fort St Angelo, a gem of a fortress is not open to the public, although cultural events including piano recitals, jazz concerts, string quarters and popular musicals are organized at the fort during the warm Summer months.  Birgu boasts of various auberges, such as the Auberge of Aragon, Auberge of Auvergne & Provence, Auberge of England, Auberge of France, Auberge of Germany and the Auberge of Italy which are also not open for the general public.

Other interesting sites to visit include the Malta at War Museum where you can learn about how people sheltered from air raids during the 2nd world war within the tunnels that run though the bastions. You can also visit the Malta Maritime Museum, which gives a detailed history of Malta's maritime and the global nature of seafaring and its impact the Maltese society.

The parish church is dedicated to St. Lawrence and the main feast is celebrated on 10th August. Another church known as St. Dominic's Church is found in Birgu, and the secondary feast of Saint Dominic is held every last Sunday of August. The Good Friday procession, which includes 8 statues and the traditional run with the statue of the Risen Christ during the procession held Easter Sunday morning, attracts a large crowd of people every year.

Passing through the narrow streets of the city, one can marvel at the beautiful way the residents decorate the streets with plants, while the new modern marina lined with a selection of restaurants and the Casino di Venezia sets the perfect scene for a leisurely walk.

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