[WATCH] Great Siege commemorated with series of events

Arts Council and Heritage Malta organise series of events leading up to the 450th Anniversary of the Great Siege starting from May.

Culture Minister Owen Bonnici and Birgu Mayor John Boxall at the launch of the Great Siege events earlier today
Culture Minister Owen Bonnici and Birgu Mayor John Boxall at the launch of the Great Siege events earlier today

This year marks the 450th anniversary of the Great Siege of Malta, and to commemorate this historic event that significantly shaped Malta’s national story, the Arts Council Malta and Heritage Malta are organising a series of events that will allow patrons to explore the life and times surrounding key figures and moments of the Great Siege.

The anniversary is an opportunity to acknowledge our rich national heritage, while also giving us occasion to reflect on the mutual respect and fraternity that is continuously being fostered between Christians, Muslims and all other religions and ethnicities today.

The official 450th anniversary events will begin on May 17 with Dawn of the Great Siege – Life at Sea 2015 held at the Malta Maritime Museum in Birgu and will feature a number of specially planned tours, activities within the museum and the city, exhibitions and lectures. Between June 26 and 29, an interactive site-specific performance in Fort St Elmo entitled 1565 – First and Last Hope will take place. Featuring some of Malta’s best-known actors, the performance will centre on events prior, during and after the Great Siege.

Shadows from the Great Siege, an animated tour of the streets of Senglea, featuring characters that participated in the battle, will be organised on July 15. This will be followed by a grand international exhibition at the majestic halls of the Grand Master’s Palace, Valletta, from September 4 to December 6, which will include the most important objects surviving from the Siege, from Malta and abroad.


Finally, between September 6 and 8, members of the Order of Malta, will arrive in Malta to take part in various cultural and liturgical activities along with Maltese delegates. A liturgical celebration in memory of the fallen of the Great Siege will take place at St Lawrence’s Church in Birgu.

This will be followed by a procession to Victory Square for the laying of a wreath at the monument. Furthermore a Pontifical Mass will be celebrated at the Sanctuary of the Nativity of Our Lady, Mellieħa as well as a Pontifical High Mass in celebration of Victory in the Great Siege, which will take place in Valletta.

The Great Siege of Malta commenced in May of 1565 when the Ottoman Empire began invading the island of Malta, which was then occupied by the Order of the Knights of St John. After several months of continuous battle and bloodshed the Siege came to an end on the 8th of September, a date that continues to be commemorated with the annual public holiday Il-Vitorja.

The dramatic unfolding of the Siege had a substantial effect on the continent, leading to the founding of Valletta a year later. Military figures such as the Grand Master Jean Parisot de Valette and the Ottoman Admiral Dragut Reis continue to be characters of much intrigue and speculation. Voltaire himself had said ‘rien est plus connu que la siège de Malte’ (nothing is so well known as the siege of Malta).

For more information log on to: http://www.heritagemalta.org/1565

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