Historic, Cultural and Maritime city
Excluding the headland comprising Fort St. Angelo, the City covers an area of about 175,000 square metres. The Phoenicians, the first known settlers to occupy the Island, reputedly erected at Birgu a temple dedicated to their tutelary goddess, ASTARTE.
Upon the arrival of the Knights of St. John in Malta in 1530, Birgu was chosen as the seat of the Order. Here they established their residence, and the arsenal for the construction and maintenance of their fleet.
During the Great Siege of 1565, when Malta faced the might of the Ottoman Empire, the city played a decisive role. For its contribution towards the final victory, Grand Master La Vallette renamed it “Civitas Victoriosa”. The City was the seat of the Grand Inquisition for more than two hundred years. When the Order transferred its seat of office to Valletta, Vittoriosa did not decline in importance: the Order’s Marina and arsenals remained here.The maritime role of Vittoriosa was again reinforced during the British period in Malta when Fort St. Angelo and Vittoriosa Wharf became the Headquarters of the Royal Navy in the Mediterranean.
Vittoriosa Wharf can be considered as the cradle of the history of Birgu. The fortifications of Birgu are possibly the most ancient of their kind in Malta.
During World War Two, Vittoriosa became the target of enemy action. Various historical building and sites were demolished and parts of the city were rebuilt on modern lines. Within the confines of its bastions, the population of Vittoriosa tended to grow in line with the increased maritime activity.
Birgu Local Council
Birgu BRG 1810