Vittoriosa, Senglea and Cospicua are known as 3 cities in 1

Vittoriosa, Senglea and Cospicua are known as 3 cities in 1

Picturesque streets and stunning views in Malta

Vittoriosa, Senglea and Cospicua, known as the Three Cities of Malta, are pieces of living history kept alive by hundreds of years of preservation, and the occasional miracle. The fortified cities sit like a trio of villages in the heart of Malta’s historic centre, directly across the Grand Harbour from Valletta.

Vittoriosa, the oldest of the 3 fortified cities collectively known as The Three Cities is only 800m long and 400m at its widest and best explored on foot.

The small winding streets, spectacular views of Valletta and The Grand Harbour and it’s off the beaten track atmosphere will leave a lasting impression on that visit.

Picturesque streets and stunning views in Malta

Vittoriosa is a very old locality with its origins reaching back to medieval times. Military powers that wanted to rule the Maltese islands would need to obtain control of Vittoriosa (at that time known as 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. Fort St Angelo, on the tip of Vittoriosa’s peninsula, has been restored and is now open to the public.

The promenade stretching down from Vittoriosa’s Cottonera Waterfront has been revamped and offers a variety of restaurants and cafés.

Cospicua is the largest of the Three Cities of Malta. Originally known as Bormia, the city was awarded the name Cospicua (meaning conspicuous) by the Knights in honour of the brave people who inhabited it during the Great Siege.

While much of the city was destroyed during numerous battles over the course of Malta’s tumultuous history, it has been proudly rebuilt and visitors can explore a series of charming, winding streets studded with historical and cultural sites. A more modern Cospicua can be found along the coastal part of the city, where the old dockyard is being redeveloped into a beautiful marina.

One of the highlights of Cospicua for most visitors is The Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. Many people consider the collegiate church a miraculous site after it survived WWII, a battle that flattened most of the city around it.

Nowadays, it’s filled with exquisite works of art, including a stunning painting of The Madonna and Child by Italian painter Polidoro Veneziano, which rests above the high altar.

Another major landmark is the defence fortifications on the edge of the city. Visitors can discover two sets: the Firenzuola Fortifications, which were built around the Three Cities of Malta in 1638; and the more localised Cottonera Lines, which surround Cospicua and were introduced in 1670.

It’s thanks to these walls that the cities didn’t endure further damage during Malta’s many battles, so they’re an integral part of the island’s history.

Senglea is a small, fortified city on a peninsular parallel to Vittoriosa. A pedestrian bridge connects it to its larger neighbour and two grand forts – Fort St Michael and Fort St Angelo – stand guard either side of the city. Unlike the other Three Cities of Malta, Senglea escaped from the Great Siege relatively unscathed, thanks to protection from the forts. The city was renamed from L’Isla (meaning ‘the island’) to Senglea, after the man who fortified it in 1551, Grand Master Claude de la Senglea. It’s also commonly known as Citta’ Invicta (the invincible city). However, Senglea’s luck unfortunately ran out during WWII, when a staggering 75% of its buildings were damaged. In the years since, many key sites (such as the Our Lady of Victories Parish Church) have been restored to their former glory.

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