A former Soviet military base lies abandoned on the Estonian island of Saaremaa. Evidence of Soviet occupancy can be found all over Estonia and its islands. Soon many of these places will be demolished. Fortunately, I was lucky enough to be able to wander through many of the buildings to document their existence before they eventually get torn down.
The Santa Marija Tower on Comino formed part of the early system of towers which the Order set up to facilitate defence and communication between the Ċittadella in Gozo and Mdina. It later became a key location of the system of towers built along the coast. The decision to build this Tower was taken by Grand Master Alof de Wignacourt in 1618, and was financed by the Grand Master himself, by the sale of the brushwood on the island and from the profits made by the resettled farmers. The site chosen was some eighty metres above sea level.
The design of the Tower was square in plan with four corner turrets. The bulk of the Tower is twelve metres high and stands on a plinth some eight metres high. A three metre wide strip was laid along the top surface of the plinth to enable the defenders to move easily to any endangered point. The walls of the Tower are about six metres thick and the four corner turrets are extended perpendicularly and crowned with a battlement top.
The De Redin Towers are a series of small fortified watch towers that Grandmaster Martin de Redin of the Order of Saint John built on the Maltese islands between the years 1658 and 1659. There are 13 on Malta and 1 on Gozo. The towers are in sight of each other, and provided a communication link between Gozo and Grand Harbour, in addition to functioning as watchtowers against attack by Corsairs. They were also designed to withstand an attack if the need arose.
The design is based on the design of the last of the five original Lascaris towers, the Sciuta Tower at Wied iż-Żurrieq, that Grand Master Giovanni Paolo Lascaris, de Redin’s predecessor, had built in 1640. The locals refer to both the five Lascaris towers and the thirteen de Redin towers as “de Redin towers”.
Nine of the fourteen towers still exist today and most are in good condition and accessible to the public. Two towers were destroyed but the remains still survive, while another three were completely demolished and no remains survive.
De Redin towers are featured on the coats of arms of the Armed Forces of Malta, the Malta Stock Exchange and the local council of Pembroke.
This is one of Grand Master de Redin’s watch towers and is situated a few hundred metres from the Għallis Tower. Also known as St Mark’s Tower, this is probably the third of the thirteen towers built by Grand Master de Redin. The stone work cost 408 scudi and was paid for by the Grand Master. Its construction and history is similar to that for Ghallis Tower and it was built between March 1658 and July of the following year together with the other twelve towers. During the British period a small room was built in front of the Tower to serve as a guard room but only its foundations remain. On the first floor there is an inlet to an underground well.
Fort Campbell was built in 1937 and was armed with two guns to defend the coastal waters of Mellieha and St. Paul’s Bay against invasion. Another anti aircraft gun was added later. One can still see the gun emplacements, the soldier’s quarters, the underground magazine and the Fire Control Command. Several pillboxes and machine gun openings were constructed all around the fort. The fort was garrisoned by 200 RMA soldiers. It’s generator fed the Search Lights facing St. Paul’s islands. This fort was abandoned around 1970.
Rural Development Programme for Malta 2007-2013
The European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development
Europe Investing in Rural Areas
Lippija Tower, completed in 1637, was the first Lascaris tower to be built. It was built overlooking Ġnejna Bay, and Lascaris himself personally completely financed its construction. It is two storeys high with a flat roof and a parapet. By the early 2000s it was abandoned in a state of disrepair and it was in danger of collapsing. In 2003 the Ministry of Resources and Infrastructure restored it and it is now in good condition.
The Palace Armoury is one of the world’s largest collections of arms and armour that is still housed in its original building. The Knights of St John were a unique brotherhood of resolute warrior monks. From Malta, their island stronghold, these combatant aristocrats from the noblest houses of Europe, carried out their relentless crusade against the Ottoman Turks in defence of the Catholic faith. The Palace Armoury is certainly one of the most visible and tangible symbols of the past glories of the Sovereign Hospitaller Military Order of Malta.
Grand Master Alof de Wignacourt transferred the Order’s arsenal to the Magisterial Palace in 1604 where it was the pride of the Order. Apart from being lavishly adorned with elaborate trophies of arms, it held enough arms and armour to equip thousands of soldiers. It was housed in the magnificent hall at the rear of the building, right above its present location. At present, it is displayed inside two halls that were originally the stables of the palace.
Following the forced departure of the Order of St. John from Malta, the armoury somehow lost much of its original grandeur. However, it was restored and was officially opened as Malta’s first public museum in 1860. Although only a fraction of its original splendour remains, the Armoury still contains abundant material of Italian, German, French and Spanish origin from principal production centres. Also displayed is an exotic selection of Islamic and Ottoman arms and armour. Apart from the massed arms of the common soldiers in the collection, the enriched personal armours of the nobility still manage to make a statement.