After many years of neglect, Fort St Elmo is being restored to its original glory. Fort St Elmo is situated at the outer tip of Valletta, guarding the entrance of both the Grand Harbour and Marsamxett Harbour. It has an honoured place in Maltese history as it has been at the front line of every enemy activity against the Islands.
Originally St Elmo was much smaller than it is today and was there before Valletta was built. Its moment of highest glory came during the first Great Siege of Malta in 1565. Fort Saint Elmo was the scene of some of the most intense fighting of this siege, and it withstood massive bombardment from Turkish cannon deployed on Mount Sciberras (where Valletta now stands) and from batteries on the north arm of Marsamextt Harbour. With a small garrison continuously reinforced from across the Grand Harbour it resisted the might of a huge Turkish invading force for 28 days, falling to the Turks only after it was reduced to rubble. All its defenders fell in battle except nine Maltese who survived by swimming across to Fort St. Angelo on the other side of the Grand Harbour.
Joke: The knight returned to the Grandmaster’s palace with prisoners, bags of gold and other riches from his victories. “Tell me of your battles,” said the Grandmaster.
“Well, sire, I have been robbing and stealing on your behalf for weeks, burning all of the villages of your enemies in the north.”
The Grandmaster was horrified. “But I have no enemies in the north,” he said.
“Well,” said the knight, “you do now.”
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