Virtual tour of Birgu. Panorama of Birgu. Maps, travel, photos, videos.

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Birgu

POI: 35.888056, 14.522500
Birgu (Maltese: Il-Birgu [ɪlˈbɪrɡʊ], Italian: Vittoriosa), also known by its title Città Vittoriosa, is an old fortified city on the south side of the Grand Harbour in the South Eastern Region of Malta. The city occupies a promontory of land with Fort Saint Angelo at its head and the city of Cospicua at its base. Birgu is ideally situated for safe anchorage, and over time it has developed a very long history with maritime, mercantile and military activities. Birgu is a very old locality with its origins reaching back to medieval times. Prior to the establishment of Valletta as capital and main city of Malta, military powers that wanted to rule the Maltese islands would need to obtain control of Birgu due to its significant position in the Grand Harbour. In fact, it served as the base of the Order of Saint John and de facto capital city of Malta from 1530 to 1571. Birgu is well known for its vital role in the Great Siege of Malta of 1565. In the early 20th century, Birgu had a population of over 6000 people. Over the years this decreased, and the population stood at 2,629 in March 2014.
History
Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Normans, the Angevines, the Aragonese and the Order of Saint John all contributed to the development of Birgu. After being driven out of Rhodes by the Ottoman Empire, the Order of Saint John were granted Malta as their new home. In 1526, the Order sent a commission made up of eight knights to Malta, representing each of the langues. They described Birgu as a small defenceless town with old houses in poor condition. When they arrived in 1530, they decided to make Birgu the capital city of Malta, since the former capital, Mdina, was inland and did not suit their naval requirements. The city was fortified in the 1530s and strengthened in the 1550s in preparation for an attack by the Ottoman Empire. This included the construction of the Castle of St Angelo, a large fortification separated from the city by a narrow channel, instead of the ancient Castrum Maris. The castle was connected to the city by means of a drawbridge. Birgu was the site of major battles between the Knights and the Ottoman Empire during the Great Siege of Malta in 1565. After four months of successful defence by the Knights, the city was almost captured by the Ottoman army in August, but was recaptured by the Knights under Grand Master Jean Parisot de Valette. Reinforcements from Sicily arrived a month later, and the siege was abandoned by the Ottomans. After this, a new capital city was built on Mount Sceberras, bearing the name Valletta. In 1571, the Knights transferred their convent and seat to the new capital and Birgu lost some of its importance. Despite this, after the Siege, Birgu was given the title Città Vittoriosa, Italian for "victorious city". After the taking of Malta by Napoleon in 1798, French forces were garrisoned in the city. Soon after the Maltese rebelled and the Grand Harbour area was blockaded by Maltese rebels aided...   ... (English)
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