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Report - Below Fort St. Elmo, Valletta, Malta

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At the north end of the peninsula that the walled capital of Valletta is built on lies Fort St. Elmo. A short history of the fort from Wikipedia:

"Prior to the arrival of the Knights of Malta in 1530, a watchtower existed on this point. Reinforcement of this strategic site commenced in 1533. By the time of the Ottoman Siege of Malta in 1565, this fortification had been reinforced and extended into a modest star fort."

"Fort Saint Elmo was the scene of some of the most intense fighting of the siege, and it withstood massive bombardment from Turkish cannon deployed on Mount Sciberras that overlooked the fort and from batteries on the north arm of Marsamextt Harbour, present site of Fort Tigne. The initial garrison of the fort was around one hundred knights and seven hundred soldiers, including around four hundred Italian troops and sixty armed galley slaves. The garrison could be reinforced by boat from the forts across Grand Harbour. The fort withstood the siege for over a month, falling to the Turks on 23 June 1565. None of the defending knights survived, and only nine of the Maltese defenders survived by swimming across to Fort St. Angelo on the other side of the Grand Harbour after the fort fell."

"Though the fort was reduced to rubble during the bombardments, when the Ottomans abandoned the siege the fort was rebuilt and reinforced, becoming partially incorporated into the seaward bastion of the fortress city of Valletta. Since the mid-20th century, Fort Saint Elmo has housed Malta's police academy."

"The World Monuments Fund placed the fort on its 2008 Watch List of the 100 Most Endangered Sites in the world because of its significant deterioration due to factors such as lack of maintenance and security, natural aging, and exposure to the elements. Conservation and restoration remains possible for much of the fort, but current funds are not sufficient to carry out many necessary repairs."

These photos are from travelling around the base of the fort. There is a tunnel on the Grand Harbour side near the breakwater that is accessible. Once inside it travels a few hundred feet within the bastions but sadly no longer connects to any other part of the fort (unless you can move walls made of 80 kg limestone blocks).

The area around the base is open to the public but should be avoided during high seas. The road that has been carved out acts like a funnel and you could be washed into the sea.

The fort above is very difficult to access especially since, as noted above, it serves as the police academy (Upper Fort St. Elmo). Lower Fort St. Elmo is a little more accessible and I will be posting a few shots from there separately.

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Google Earth satellite view showing the entrance to Grand Harbour and the breakwaters.

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Standing on the breakwater stairs, looking at Fort St. Elmo

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The breakwater and remains of the footbridge, destroyed in WW II

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The base road leading to the tunnel. Dangerous during high seas.

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Entrance to the tunnel

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Just outside the tunnel entrance, you can always hear the waves

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Looking back toward the breakwater and base road and tunnel entrance area