[WATCH] €14.5 million Fort St Angelo restoration project inaugurated

Prime Minister muses on Fort’s ‘change of use’: ‘From a place of war to a fort bringing together people of different beliefs, religion and race’

Photography: Ray Attard
Photography: Ray Attard
€14.5 million Fort St Angelo restoration project inaugurated • Video by Ray Attard

The €14.5 million restoration project of Fort St Angelo was inaugurated this morning by Prime Minister Joseph Muscat in the presence of Cabinet members, the diplomatic corps and Heritage Malta members, amongst others.

Kick-started in 2007 under the Nationalist administration, a substantial part of the Fort has been returned to its former glory. Works were given a stronger push over the past months in order to use the Fort during CHOGM 2015.

The 53 leaders of the Commonwealth states and governments will be meeting at the Fort.

“It is a historical twist to see the Fort, once a place of war, serving as a place to welcome dialogue among leaders of different race, beliefs and religion,” Muscat said.

The Prime Minister also spoke of his government’s intentions to use locations such as this Fort and Fort St Elmo to be more “than just a showcase”.

He said, the expression of interest launched for Fort St Elmo was “an avant-garde decision” to involve the private in the restoration works.

An "impressed" Muscat also pointed towards the 11,000 people who work in the culture industry on a full-time or part-time basis or are involved in one way or another.

The Fort – partly owned by the state, the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St John and a private consortium – is located at the tip of the Birgu peninsula.

After 1530, the Order of St John turned Fort St Angelo into their headquarters and even housed the Grand Master’s residence between 1530 and 1558.

The transfer of the Order’s headquarters to Valletta in 1571 and the crafting of an impressive network of defensive lines around the Grand Harbour and along the coast during the subsequent hundred years, diminished temporarily the relevance of the Fort as key for the defence of Malta.

Slowly the Fort began to lose its strategic value and proposals were even put forward for its destruction. But thanks to the “progress in technology of war”, the fort was revived in the 1600s and was once again hailed for its strategic potential as a major coastal gun battery.

Come June 1798, the Fort offered no effective resistance against the French invasion and ended up being used as the headquarters of the French army.

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