Fort Manoel

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Fort Manoel
Manoel Island, Gżira, Malta
Malta - Gzira - Manoel Island - Fort Manoel (Ferry Sliema-Valletta) 02 ies.jpg
View of Fort Manoel from Marsamxett
Coordinates 35°54′10″N 14°30′19″E / 35.90278°N 14.50528°E / 35.90278; 14.50528
Type Coastal fortification
Site information
Condition Intact
Site history
Built 1723
Built by Order of Saint John
In use 1755-1906
Materials Limestone
For fort in Kerala, India, see Fort Emmanuel.

Fort Manoel is a fortification on the island of Malta. It stands 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 star fort, with much of its ditches and walls formed from the native rock of Manoel Island.


The square and chapel of Fort Manoel after restoration
Monument to Grand Master de Vilhena that was formerly located at Fort Manoel. It is now located at Misraħ Papa Gwanni XXIII in Floriana.

Fort Manoel is built in the shape of a square and with four square bastions giving it the shape of a star fort. The bastions surrounding the landward side are surrounded by cavaliers while the seaward bastions are fitted with large powder magazines. A ditch surrounds the entire fort.

The main entrance is on the seaward side facing Valletta. It is in Baroque style and is protected by the ditch and a drawbridge. Inside the fort there is a square surrounded by barracks, an armoury and other buildings including a chapel dedicated to St Anthony of Padova. A statue of Grandmaster Vilhena once stood in the square but it was removed in the 19th century and relocated to Valletta. It was later relocated once again and it is now in Floriana.[1]


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.[1]

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.

Present day[edit]

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.[2]

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.


  1. ^ a b "Manoel Island". Local Councils' Association. Retrieved 22 August 2014. 
  2. ^ "Restoration of Fort Manoel". MIDI plc. Retrieved 22 August 2014. 

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