Tag Archives: mediterranean

Love Maltese History? A Spotlight on Fort St Angelo

Fort_St Angelo

Fort St Angelo

Fort St. Angelo is the jewel in the crown of Malta’s rich military heritage. It stands majestically at the
tip of the promontory of Citta Vittoriosa or Birgu, as it is popularly known, dominating the Three Cities on the South Eastern of the Grand Harbour. The Families of De Guevara and De Nava were associated with the castle for many years and the latter family had to hand over the castle to the Order of St. John, when the Knights landed on our shores in 1530.

Soon after their arrival in Malta the Knights set about strengthening the then half-ruined Castle of St. Angelo and repairing the Fort’s defences. The church of St. Anne as well as the Castellan’s house, both in the fort, were restored and remodelled by the Order’s Ingeniere e Soprastante dell Opere, the Portugese Fra Diego Perez di Malfriere. The castle soon became a veritable fortress and, thirty five years later, in 1565, was to repulse a formidable Turkish Armada which besieged the island for three months. It was the headquarters of Grand Master Jean Parisot de Valette who led the local force of some six hundred Knights and a few thousands met-at-arms against the repeated onslaught of the Muslim invaders. The epic resistance of the defenders of the Fort during the Great Siege, are the archetype of all that symbolizes the character and determination of the Knights of St. John and the Maltese.

The Fort underwent various changes during the rule of the Order of St. John and the other defence works were concluded by the Spanish military engineer Carlos de Grunenburgh, in about 1689. This outline still survives today. In 1912 the British Royal Navy moved into Fort St. Angelo and the fort was turned into a naval headquarters and rechristened HMS St. Angelo. During the Second World War the fort was extensively damaged by air attack and between 1940 and 1943 it suffered sixty-nine direct hits. It continued to be used as a base ship for the Mediterranean until the British Services finally left Malta in March 1979.

In the historical agreement reached with the Maltese Government in 1998, the Order of St. John, was granted the right to occupy the upper part of the Fort, comprising the Magistral Palace and St. Anne Chapel. Intensive restoration works of these areas are being carried out.

The Church of St. Anne in Fort St. Angelo
The 15th century Chapel of St. Anne, in the precincts of Fort St. Angelo, is where the Knights first worshipped on their arrival in Malta. It is said that the original chapel was built by De Nave family one hundred years before the coming of the Knights in 1530.

The histographer of the Order Iacomo Bosio, writing in 1594, says that the present chapel was built on the site of the previous chapel thus: “The church consists of an entrance bay, a square central section of four quadripartite-vaulted bays, another quadripartite-vaulted bay in line with the entrance and, finally a small bay which seems to have supported a half-dome. The four middle bays are sustained by a central column composed of red granite known as syenite and may have formed part of a temple.”

The ‘Guva’ in Fort St. Angelo
The ‘Guva’, or underground cell, was the Order’s most sever place of confinement for convicted knights. It principally served as a place of punishment but occasionally also housed knights awaiting trial. It consists of a bell shaped hole excavated in the ground-rock, without steps, from which it was virtually impossible to escape. The base is roughly oval shaped (from 3.3 meters at its narrowest to 4.2 meters at its widest) and it is 3.4 meters high. Niches and shelves cut in the walls were probably used for candles, laps or lanterns. Sad graffiti decorate all the wall surface and the names incised indicate that the guva was in use soon after the knights’ arrival in Malta. One graffito by Fra Jeronimo Palan is the earliest, dated August 7, 1532.

The only guva known today, rediscovered in 1913, is in Fort St. Angelo in Malta, and is five meters awat from the facade of the little church of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary. The archives indicate that other guvas existed; with at least two or three in Gozo, but their whereabouts have not yet been identified.

EU Celebrations

EU Celebrations

EU Celebrations

Fort St. Angelo was the centre of attraction in a spectacular display of lights, music and fireworks which was transmitted live on television to millions of viewers, to celebrate Malta’s entry into the European Union on the 1st May 2004.

If you would like to know more about the History of Malta and would like to visit some interesting places during your holidays in Malta, contact Our Concierge & Transport Desk and they will surely be able to assist you. And if you would like to book a superior room for your relaxation break, check out what this Luxury Malta Hotel has to offer.

Photos courtesy of Mario Galea, www.viewingmalta.com & http://www.cc-advocates.com.

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A Mediterranean way of life: Music, Festivals and Fun

We’ve all heard the saying ‘find a balance between work and play’ and this is surely practised by many Maltese. The Maltese seek every possible occasion to celebrate, be it a personal celebration such as a family wedding, a local feast, carnival, and other yearly musical festivals. And come summer everyone is so eagerly waiting for the lazy months to relax by the beach and enjoy a lovely dip in the sea. But there is no exception for tourists that frequent the Maltese islands during the year seeking some quiet relaxation from the mundane life.

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Having an ideal climate with mild wet winters and warm dry summers, Malta is a well sought destination for many tourists from all around the globe. And come summer what better way to enjoy life than some lazy summer days with a nice glass of wine or a cold beer and some nice music in the background.

Tourists on holiday in Malta do not simply seek the rich history and culture of Malta or the warm climate, they also want to party and enjoy lovely music. So if you are a music lover Malta is perfect for you! All year round there are several activities and concerts that are suited for different age groups and tastes. These events are the perfect occasion for a night out with friends or family.

Cultural Events
Some of the annual cultural events include the Valletta Baroque Festival, the Malta Jazz Festival, the Malta International Choir Festival and other Operas and recitals.

Malta Jazz Festival

An annual musical event that has become increasingly popular in the local events calendar is the Malta International Jazz Festival which takes place on three evenings in July at the Ta’ Liesse in Valletta. This year the festival dates are from the 18th till the 20th July and includes a line-up of top international and Maltese artists. The Festival presents an eclectic mix of jazz styles from the current musical scene which suites various music tastes. The beauty of the Grand Harbour by night sets the backdrop and as described by Mike Stern who played at this venue, the place is magnificent: ‘I have never played in a postcard before’.

The Valletta Baroque Festival is another musical event centered around Valletta. It highlights Malta’s capital as a winter and cultural touristic destination. The aim of this Festival is to celebrate the baroque identity of our truly special capital city, Valletta.

The second edition of the Valletta Baroque Festival will take place between the 10th and the 26th January 2014. The Festival will be centered around the Manoel Theatre, however events will also extend to the magnificent St John’s Co-Cathedral, the atmospheric Valletta churches, the splendid Grandmasters’ Palace, the auberges and other baroque edifices. Although this is a musical event, the programme will also be touching on opera and theatre.

Malta International Choir Festival

The Malta International Choir Festival besides being a festival, it is also a competition. It sees various choirs from different nations, cultures and religions performing and competing in a friendly atmosphere. The choirs vary by style and level. This Festival serves as a means of meeting music lovers from all over the world in a friendship concert. This year the event will take place from the 31st October to the 3rd November 2013 and is open to various categories of choirs which hail from all over the world.

Music Concerts and Festivals
In the past years several artists such as Elton John, Zucchero, Ronan Keating, Tom Jones, Rod Stewart and Sir Cliff Richard have visited Malta to perform during a live concert.

Isle_of_MTV_Rene Rossignaud

And the highlight of the music scene in Malta is the annual free live European Summer Music Concert, namely the Isle of MTV concert which is held at the Granaries in Floriana. Every year well known and world renowned artists perform at the yearly Isle of MTV concert. These concerts attract a huge audience consisting of both locals and tourists. In previous years, stars like Lady Gaga, Snoop Dog, Black Eyes Peas, LMFAO, and Scissor sisters have taken part.

This year the Isle of MTV concert took place on the 26th June and included top international artists Jessie J, Rita Ora, AfroJack and Rudimental. A local Maltese artist, Kristina Casolani, and the Maltese Eurovision star 2013 Gianluca Bezzina, also took part in this year’s well-sought concert. As was done in previous years the concert will be filmed and aired on MTV channels in the coming months.

For a fun-filled holiday in Malta stay in a Luxury Hotel in Malta close to Valletta and with easy access to all the attractions and events happening around Malta. And if you would like to enjoy a special five star holiday deal during next year’s Valletta International Baroque Festival check out our special Valletta Baroque Festival Offer

Photos courtesy of Viewingmalta.com & Rene Rossignaud.

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