Valletta is a city rich in history and etched in the blood of our forefathers who struggled against all odds to protect their homeland. Knowing its origins back to 1570, the city was built on the barren peninsula that was the main battleground of the Turkish attempted takeover of the island in the famous Great Siege of Malta in 1565. Back then the defenders of the island, namely the Knights of the Order of Saint John of Jerusalem had established themselves in the 3 Cities on the opposite shore. The defence of the island consisted of the forts of St. Angelo and St. Michael at the tip of the 2 of the cities and the Fort of St. Elmo at the tip of the then barren peninsula.
Under the apt leadership of the Grand Master Jean Parisot de la Valette, the defenders consisted of around 500 knights, approximately 2,000 footsoldiers of mainly Italian and Spanish origins, and the Maltese population of about 3000 men whilst the attacking force consisted of around 48,000 strong who arrived in over a 100 ships. After holding strong for weeks, St. Elmo fell first to the enemy at a high price with around 9000 lives lost , the majority of which belonged to the attacking force.
Following fierce bloodied battles and severe casualties the Turks finally abandoned their hopes and left the island in disarray. Having checked the Muslim onslaught of Malta which would have threatened the southern borders of Europe, La Valette received great praise, gifts and funds from the European nobility and as a result he decided to build a new stronger fortified city on the then barren peninsula to prepare for any future invasions.
The result is the magnificent walled city of Valletta, a city “built for gentleman by gentleman” and a city which was to see the invasion of the French, another Siege by the very Maltese to out throw the French and after many years the brunt of 2 world wars. The second world war was to take its toll on this historic city with both its inhabitants and its magnificent buildings paying a high cost.