No other fortress has been engaged with the same intensity in the shaping of Malta’s destiny as Fort St Angelo. Nowadays, it stands as the boldest memorial of the strategic importance of the islands and of the innumerable lives sacrificed for their dominion.
Strategically located on a hillock, at the end of the Birgu peninsula, the fort dominates the Grand Harbour. By 1274, the stronghold, previously known as Castrum Maris (castle-by-the-sea), consisted of two enclosures. The Sicilian overlords considered this fort as a guarantee of their interests in the Maltese Islands, and it was administered by loyal subjects under the title of Castellan.
After 1530, the Order of St John christened this military structure as Fort St Angelo and turned it into their headquarters. The Knights remodelled the building extensively with the construction of a series of artillery platforms which marked the introduction of the bastioned system of defence into the Maltese Islands. The rejuvenated sentinel of the Grand Harbour had a major role during the Great Siege of 1565.
In 1689, military engineer Carlos Grunenbergh spearheaded its transformation into a forceful coastal work, including four intimidating gun platforms with a capacity of some fifty artillery pieces. In 1906, the Royal Navy’s Mediterranean Fleet relocated its command hub inside the fort which was enlisted as shore base, first renamed HMS Egmont in 1912 and HMS St Angelo in 1933.
During World War II, Fort St Angelo suffered 69 direct hits. It continued to serve as a shore establishment of the Royal Navy in Malta until the last detachment of foreign forces marched out of its walls in March 1979.
Today, Fort St Angelo offers spectacular panoramic views of the Grand Harbour and its surrounding fortified towns. Through traditional and innovative immersive displays, visitors can experience the colourful history and various architectural styles of this fort, together with staggering examples of artillery.