The Malta Independent 1 December 2022, Thursday
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Most of upper Fort St Angelo now accessible to the public

Tuesday, 17 December 2019, 13:36 Last update: about 4 years ago

Heritage Malta, within Ministry for Justice, Culture and Local Government and the Sovereign Military Order of Malta signed an agreement which will see most of upper Fort St Angelo become accessible to the public daily.

This agreement is the latest in a series of collaborations between the two entities, which over the years restored and opened more sections of upper Fort St Angelo to the public, coupled with daily guided tours of this area organised by Heritage Malta.

Minister for Justice, Culture and Local Government Owen Bonnici commended this agreement, and stated that through such collaborations we can further provide our community with more access to our country’s unique heritage. Minister Bonnici also mentioned the numerous initiatives undertaken by the agency such as the Student and Senior Passport Scheme, through which those entitled for these initiatives have free access to all the sites and museums under Heritage Malta’s helm.

The upper area of Fort St Angelo is one of the oldest parts of this military building. It includes the Keep, which is the most impregnable section of the Fort. During the Middle Ages, the Keep was intended to be the last resort when the stronghold was known as the Castrum Maris (castle-by-the-sea).

Up until 1530, this secluded area included also the Castellan’s house, the person of trust appointed by the Viceroy of Sicily to oversee Crown interests in Malta. Over the years, this residence served as the seat of whoever commanded Fort St Angelo, and by extension, the island.

From Castellan’s house to the Grand Master’s Magisterial Palace, onto the British Governor’s residence, and finally, the Captain’s house up until 1979, traces of these periods can still be viewed and will now be accessible to the public.

Structures of note within this area include a nymphaeum added by Grand Master L’Isle Adam, as well as two gun batteries added in 1690 by military engineer Carlos Grunenbergh. These batteries, together with another two, were placed strategically to protect the entrance of the Grand Harbour against any invading enemy vessels. They remained armoured until the late 19th century.

By the early 20th century, a naval ship-mast was installed from where signals were hoisted up to conduct ship manoeuvring in the harbour. Weather reports were also issued from here. The Royal Navy White Ensign flew daily until March 1979. The ship-mast is the last of its kind in the Maltese islands.

In 1998, this part of the Fort was leased to SMOM for a period of 99 years and was subsequently restored. The area acts as the residence of the Resident Knight, currently Bailiff Grand Cross Frà John Edward Critien.

In September 2016, following another agreement in collaboration with Heritage Malta, upper Fort St Angelo was made more accessible to the public and Heritage Malta initiated daily guided tours of this area, which ran until March 2019.

In view of the latest agreement, entrance tickets of €10 for adults, €6 for seniors and students and €4 for children will comprise a visit to the Fort and will also include most of upper Fort St Angelo, with access to St Anne’s Chapel and the adjoining gardens, No. 5 Battery, the internal courtyard, the outer staircase of the Magisterial Palace and the nymphaeum.

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