Fort Saint Elmo

At the tip of Valletta, facing the open sea, stands a fort which has been essential in defending Malta over the centuries. Fort St Elmo’s original star shaped structure was constructed in 1552 to defend against the Ottoman Empire. As the years went by, extra bits were built to strengthen it further. The Ottoman’s attacked in 1565 and were repelled for a month before the fort finally fell.

Each ruler of Malta added something extra to the fort and its role in WW2 was particularly significant. In fact, much of what you see today is a combination of the original fort and later British additions made in the run up to the war. Most of the fort has been restored for you to walk around, although a significant part (pictured below) remains derelict and cannot be entered.

You enter the fort past concrete WW2 gun positions around the Victoria Gate. This leads to an area between the old fort in the centre and the newer ‘bastions’ on the outside. One of the bastions – the Abercrombie Bastion – is fully open to explore with its WW2 lookout and gun towers on top. The building with the long line of windows facing the sea is the ‘casemates’ and each enclosure would have contained a large cannon/gun to defend the fort. After this section, which includes a display of cannon, you can enter the oldest part of the fort.

Fort St Elmo has a huge courtyard at its centre. Surrounding this are the former barracks, offices and even a small chapel. The main buildings in the fort now contain the various galleries of the Malta National War Museum. At first, you get to see lots of items in glass cabinets, but as the galleries continue the displays get better and better. The audio/visual displays in particular were impressive, especially as you get to the WW2 part of its history.

The most impressive story from the museum for us was the huge convoy of merchant ships which set sail for Malta with food and aid for its residents who were close to starvation in WW2. An old oil tanker, USS Ohio, was at its centre and the ships had a full military escort. Although the Ohio did get through, most of the other ships were destroyed or sunk along the way, with huge loss of life. This one incident is seen as a key moment of the war for the people of Malta and the impressive video projection from above which tells the story in the museum, really brought it to life.

Another video show worth seeing is the one in the ‘Cavalier’ which projects actors playing soldiers from across the years onto the walls of each area. All in all, Fort St Elmo is an attraction not to be missed in Valletta, although it could do with a good cafe! The fort is open from 10am to 6pm daily. Adult admission is 10 Euros.


Address: Fort St Elmo And National War Museum, Valletta, Malta
Contact: +356 21233088


Fort Saint Elmo – Visit Malta
Fort St Elmo – Wikipedia
Hotels in Valletta –
More Things To Do In Valletta – GetYourGuide