Casa Rocca Piccola is a 16th-century palace in Malta, and home of the noble de Piro family. It is situated in Valletta, the capital city of Malta. There are daily tours. The history of Casa Rocca Piccola goes back over 400 years to an era in which the Knights of St John, having successfully fought off the invading Turks in 1565, decided to build a prestigious city to rival other European capitals such as Paris and Venice. Palaces were designed for prestige and aesthetic beauty in most of Valletta’s streets, and bastion walls fortified the new sixteenth-century city. Casa Rocca Piccola was one of two houses built in Valletta by Admiral Don Pietro la Rocca. It is referenced in maps of the time as “la casa con giardino” meaning, the house with the garden, as normally houses in Valletta were not allowed gardens. Changes were made in the late 18th century to divide the house into two smaller houses. Further changes were made in 1918 and before the second world war an air raid shelters was added. The Casa Rocca Piccola Family Shelter is the second air-raid shelter to be dug in Malta. In 2000 a major restoration project saw the two houses that make up Casa Rocca Piccola reunited.
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
St Paul’s Island, also known as Selmunett, is a small island off Selmun near the north-east of the main island of Malta. St Paul’s Island is sometimes split into two islands by a shallow isthmus, and it is therefore sometimes referred to in the plural as St Paul’s Islands. St Paul’s Island has been uninhabited since World War II, and it is the largest uninhabited island of Malta.
The Acts of the Apostles tell the story of how Paul the Apostle was shipwrecked on an island which some scholars have identified as Malta while on his way to Rome to face charges. Traditionally, St. Paul’s Bay and St Paul’s Island are identified as the location for this shipwreck.
In 1576, Marco di Maria was being chased by Barbary corsairs off the coast of Malta. He navigated his vessel through the narrow channel between St Paul’s Island and Malta, but when the pirates followed him they ran aground and were captured. As a result of this, the Grandmaster Jean de la Cassière gave St Paul’s Islands to di Maria. Since he was a member of the Salamone family, the islands were often called Selmunett.
In 1844 a prominent statue of Saint Paul was erected on the island. It was sculpted by Segismondo Dimech from Valletta and Salvatore Dimech from Lija. The statue was officially inaugurated and blessed on 21 September 1845. It was restored by Din l-Art Ħelwa in 1996 and again in 2007. It will be restored once more in 2014.
Until the 1930s, a farmer called Vincenzo Borg, nicknamed Ta’ Bajdafin, lived on the island. His farmhouse was located close to the statue of Saint Paul. He abandoned the dwelling and the fields on the island just before World War II started. The farmhouse was a three-chambered structure with a heavily buttressed wall at its lower level. It resembled the Lascaris or De Redin towers, although it was never used for military purposes. Since it was abandoned, the upper room has collapsed and the structure is now in ruins. Pope John Paul II visited the island by boat during his visit to Malta in 1990.
Saint Paul’s Islands lie about 80 metres off the coast of Mellieħa, Malta. The island can split into two islands by a shallow isthmus according to the sea level, and when they are split the larger island on the west is known as Saint Paul’s Island while the smaller one on the east is known as Quartz Island. Both islands are made of upper coralline limestone. Saint Paul’s Island’s landscape is a maritime garigue dominated by Golden samphire, Maltese fleabane and other species. Quartz Island is more exposed and has less vegetation than the main island. A population of the land snail Trochoidea spratti can be found on the islands. Wild rabbits used to live on the island but the population died off due to disease. A subspecies of the Maltese wall lizard known as Podarcis filfolensis kieselbachi also lived there but the population apparently became extinct in 2005.
Built in 1860 over another church that was built in 1614, the church of St. Mary is the Parish church of Mosta. The interior of the church is quite impressive with its circular shape and clear interior.
The awesome dome is the fourth largest in the world and famous due to the incident that took place during WWII – a bomb, which pierced the dome in 1942 landed on the church floor and slid across the floor without exploding! The church was crowded when the bomb hit and all were spared. The bomb is now on display in a small museum attached to the church.
Mosta’s titular feast – that of St. Mary or the Assumption of Our Lady – held on August 15th is a high point in the local religious celebrations. The people of Mosta rally in front of the Rotunda in a manifestation of joy, merrymaking and social wellbeing.
Fort Manoel is a fortification located on Manoel Island in Marsamxett Harbour to the north west of Valletta and commands the entrance to Marsamxett Harbour and the anchorage of Sliema Creek.
Fort Manoel is a fortification on the island of Malta. Fort Manoel is a star fort, with much of its ditches and walls formed from the native rock of Manoel Island. The fort was built by the Order of Saint John the patronage of Portuguese Grand Master António Manoel de Vilhena. The first stone was laid by de Vilhena himself on 14 September 1723, and work progressed rapidly. The gateway was built by 1726 and the ditch had been excavated by 1732. The fort was complete by 1755, although by this time de Vilhena had died. The original design work for a fort on the island, then known as Isolotto, was the work of the French engineer René Jacob de Tigné. The final design also incorporated the work of Charles François de Mondion, at that time the Order’s resident military engineer in charge of works of fortification and defence. Mondion also supervised the construction and after his death, he was buried in the fort’s chapel. The fort was an active military establishment initially under the Knights and later under British Military control from its construction through until 1906 when the British military finally decommissioned the fort’s guns.Military re-enactment of the Second World War at Fort Manoel.During the Second World War, a battery of 3.7-inch heavy anti-aircraft guns was deployed in and around the fort. The guns were mounted in concrete gun emplacements and deployed in a semicircle around the fort. The fort suffered considerable damage to its ramparts, barracks and chapel as a result of aerial bombing during the war. After this it was left abandoned and it suffered more damage from disuse and vandalism.
The fort was left in a state of disrepair for many years due to the ravages of time and damage sustained during the Second World War. In August 2001, MIDI plc began restoration work on the fort. Large parts of the fort were completely rebuilt, including the chapel and the main gate. It was reopened to the public on 31 October 2009. The restoration of Fort Manoel together with that of the nearby Fort Tigné cost a total of €30 million. Fort Manoel is featured in the fiction book Il-Misteru tal-Forti Manoel (The Mystery of Fort Manoel) by Charles Zarb published in 2007. Since the restoration the fort served as a location for the shooting of the climactic scene of the ninth episode (“Baelor”) of the TV series Game of Thrones.
At the end of Archbishop Street in Valletta is St. Paul’s Anglican Cathedral. It was built between 1839 and 1844 and funded by the Dowager Queen Adelaide widow of King William IV.
During her visit in 1838-39 she discovered that there was not an Anglican church in Malta and ordered one to be built. The cathedral was finally built on the site where the Auberge d’Allemagne, home to the German knights, used to stand but was knocked down to make way for the new cathedral. The cathedral was dedicated to St. Paul and has a huge steeple of 65m (210ft) which stands out marking the capital’s skyline.
Next to the cathedral is the Carmelite Dome in which the original had to be replaced in 1958 when the dome was bombed during World War II.
The building, fully completed in 1749, is on three levels: the underground level consists of a labyrinth of Punic, Roman and Christian Hypogea with interesting architectural features as well as a complex of World War II shelters with two main corridors and fifty rooms.
The Upper Barrakka Gardens are situated near Castille Place and possess unsurpassed views across the Grand Harbour over to the Three Cities.
The origins of the Upper Barrakka Gardens go back to 1661, when it was a private garden of the Italian Knights, whose inns of residence (auberges) lie close by. It was not before 1824 that it was opened as a public garden and during WWII the garden suffered much destruction. The paths are lined with and the busts, statues and plaques that chart various personalities and other significant events in Maltese history.
Of special interest are the bronze group, known as ‘Les Gavroches’ (street urchins), by an early 20th century Maltese sculptor. Depicting three children hurrying forward, the idea behind this statue was the extreme hardship faced at the turn of the 20th century.