Since this year our islands are commemorating the 450th anniversary of the Great Siege of 1565, one is spoilt for choice as to which activity to attend.
Recently, Flimkien Għall-Ambjent Aħjar organized a boat and walk tour ‘In the steps of the Great Siege’ which focused on the involvement of Vittoriosa (Birgu) during this particular historical period.
It was amazing to find out how many structures in Birgu are correlated to the Great Siege of 1565. Though a number of them have been restored or are undergoing restoration, it is a pity to see that others are still in dire need of attention. Hopefully, now that this year, these buildings are particularly attracting the public’s interest, some funds will be allocated to restore them to their former glory.
The tour started from Lascaris Wharf in Valletta where participants crossed the harbour to Birgu in traditional Maltese boats. In this way, they could enjoy a different perspective of how one could reach this historical town in the old days.
Disembarking in an area known as Sally Port or ‘It-Toqba’ led the participants to a particular entrance within the fortifications. During peace time, this site served as a practical passageway to sailors who could land or leave from galleys without having to reach the front side of Birgu. On the other hand, in war time, this tiny gate allowed defenders to rush out and attack the enemy who reached this place to scale up the walls or to move closer with siege engines.