Graffitti and frescos are still visible in most of the cells in the palace. A particular graffitti is found in the first cell right beside the 'Toilet Well'. It symbolisis a Rose and the artist must have had lots of time to spare for this drawing. A fresco of 'Madonna of Mt Carmel' and St Joseph are still recognisable in a cell in the first floor just oppisite the 'Sun Dial'. Other graffitti depict 'British Galleons' , Holy Crosses and even written insults (in English) to the person responsable of them being inside. Records show that escapism was rather common from these cells, mainly as stated in tip 1of 4 that the Palace was not built originally for that purpose and inmates used to dig under the walls. Please click on photo to see pics of The Graffitti, The Cell Corridor, The Toilet Well and the Sundial.
Known Locally as St Dominic's Church, the Annunciation church was originally built by the Dominican Order in 1528 but rebuilt from scratch after the bombings of World War II. It was here that Pope Alexander VII then still a cleric and also later an Inquisiter, celebrated his first High Mass in 1635.Click on pic to see the Church's Altar and Dome.
The Inquisiter's Palace in Birgu was the Main Inquisition Seat of Malta from 1574 till 1798 when it was time for the Knights to leave Malta.The palace was not built purposely as a residence for the Inquisitor. It was erected in the 1530s as the civil law courts of the Order of St John soon as the Knights arrived in Malta. It continued to serve as law courts until 1571, when the Order transferred its headquarters to Valletta after the siege of 1565. Mgr Pietro Dusina arrived in Malta in 1574 as the first general inquisitor of the Maltese Islands. The Grand Master offered him the unused palace as an official residence.Of the 62 Roman Inquisiters, 24 were elected Cardinals, 3 Bishops and 2 Popes ( Alexander VII and Innocent XII). Inside this Palace (which is still in Pristine condition), one can find the 'Gothic Cloister' in the main courtyard, the Prison Cells, The Court of Inquisition, the Chapel and the Torture room among others. Please click on pic to see the photo of all 'attractions' mentioned, and see the rest of 'things to do - Inquisiter's Palace' for more specific details.
A trial in this court ( most usually regarding Heresy) was surely not a pleasant one. Present in the room, there would be the Inquisiter, the Grand Master, the Bishop, the Prior of the Conventual Church of St John and the Vice Chancellor. The 'accused after spending days in a solitary cell just opposite the court room , would be escorted to the court room and forced to enter from under a three foot door thus having to kneel in front of the Inquisiter wheter he likes it or not. After the trial, the defendent is either found innocent and freed or if found guilty or not repentent he'll be led to the secret staircase at the right side of the court and 'Purified' with the Torture Instruments. Click on pic to see the torture room , the cells and the secret passageway to the torture room.
Two monuments are unmissable in Vittoriosa's Main Square. The statue close to the Band Club represents St Lawrence. He's been the patron Saint of Vittoriosa long before the Knights arrived in Malta. This statue was built in 1880. The other statue further downhill in the same square commemorates the Great Siege o 1565. This monument known as 'The Victory Monument' was built in 1705. At a corner of the square, you can find a plaque under a niche. The plaque says that during the 16th Century, 'criminals' were hanged in that spot. Please click on pic to see other attractions in the city Square.
The torch atop of the monument was lit for the first time on the big day - 31st March 1979 by Mr Dom. Mintoff ,Malta's Primeminister in those days. The monument in itself holds a series of symbolic messages. The rugged winding hill reaching the torch symbolics the long and hard way to achieve the Freedom. The British sailor shaking hands to the Maltese man symbolics that the British left Malta on very good terms. The Prickly Pear cactus surrounding the hill , was part of the Republic of Malta Coat of Arm in those days.( Click on photo to see the old Republic emblem). For the Maltese , Freedom Day was a big achievment as after thousands of years Malta was governed by the Maltese without any fingerdipping of the foreign. It also was a 'hat-trick' after managing to achieve Independce Day and Republic Day just 15 years prior.
Fort St Angelo is one of Malta's prime military heritage sites. Tradition says that it stands on the site of a fortified Roman settlement. But it is a true fact that Fort St. Angelo starred in Maltese history as the undefeated fort during the Great Siege .... when almost impossibly, it managed to withstand the relentless attacks of the Ottoman Turks, for 3 whole months.
In great contrast, nowadays it is a peaceful place, looking over the creek separating Birgu from the opposite Isla and the majestic Grand Harbour. But just walking by in this atmospheric setting, it is not so difficult to imagine the bloody, bold history that this monument signifies.
We noticed there is a huge regeneration project going in this area of Malta. Just by Fort Angelo will be The St Angelo Mansions complex. A prime site here with its history and waterfront views for an international Yacht Marina, a luxury hotel, a Health Spa, the Casino di Venezia, catering establishments and various cultural outlets. Would be great to see this in a few years time and to see how it will affect Vittoriosa. We were standing on the top of this new development as we got yet another angle on Fort Angelo.
At Easter time around the Maltese islands one can visit various exhibitions. This one was really impressive as I had never seen anything like this before. In a very small room a local from Birgu created the various stations of the Cross however they were not normal as we usually see them because they were really tiny. All the things in the rooms were miniature size ! Since it was an exhibtion he did not let me take photos of the indivual passions of the cross but just this one photo of all of them put together so its hard to convey what I saw however I thought that they were made really good with every detail showing. I think he must have put alot of work to make them so real. I think they were so cute !
The Apostles table is another custom that we have. Infact one can visit many exhibtions like these all over the Maltese Islands not only in Vittoriosa or Bormla. Locals prepare a table and lay a table with plates either filled with coloured rice and shape them in a way to show pictures to do with the whole story of the passion of Christ or then they lay it out with food that the Apostles would have ate. There are many different types of exhibitions. Locals put alot of their time every year to prepare for these exhibitions and everyone tries his best to be orginal using different types of mediums.
At Easter time all the Churches in Malta and Gozo are decorated with white flowers however there is custom that a part of the Church at times even a side altar is decorated more than the rest so that people can go and visit to pray in front of the altar. On the day before Maundy Thursday and on the the day people go around to visit 7 churches to say prayers - this is a custom around the Maltese islands however it is optional and not a must but many people keep up with this tradition.
The stretch of water between Vittoriosa and its other neighbour Kalkara is known, not surprisingly, as Kalkara Creek!. From this creek there is also a fine view of Fort Angelo - you can just imagine how grand it must have been in its day.
The Fort had a moat around it as part of its impressive defences. The fort was also used as a prsion for rebellious Knights! The entrance to the prison was across this narrow bridge which can be seen in this pic - best viewed from rooftop of new hotel/waterfront development.
Walking around the fort in its neglected state and devoid of life was quite eerie. Broken windows, loose wires in the barracks - not a safe place really...
This is a view inside the Fort. Inside the fort are two chapels - one 12th century, the other 16th century. The early Grand Masters are buried here as well as many Knights who died in defence of the city.
In later years Fort Angelo was the British Naval headquarters and base for the Allied naval operations in the Med. during the WW2. The fort is now derelict and forlorn - hopefully regeneration projects in this area will include the fort. You can walk around it - there was no entrance fee - and there are great views from its bastion look out towers.