|Native name: Il-Gżira Manwel|
View of Fort Manoel on Manoel Island
Map of Manoel Island within Marsamxett Harbour
|Location||Marsamxett Harbour, Malta, south of Sicily, Mediterranean Sea|
Manoel Island is a small island which forms part of the municipality of Gżira in Marsamxett Harbour, Malta. It was originally known as l'Isola del Vescovo or il-Gżira tal-Isqof in Maltese (literally translated as "the Bishop's Island"). In 1643 Jean Paul Lascaris, Grandmaster of the Knights of Malta, constructed a quarantine hospital (lazzaretto) on the island, in an attempt to control the periodic influx of plague and cholera on board visiting ships.
The island was renamed after António Manoel de Vilhena, a Portuguese Grandmaster of the Knights of Malta under whose leadership Fort Manoel was built in 1726. Fort Manoel is considered a marvel of 18th century military engineering. The original plans for the Fort are attributed to Louis d'Augbigne Tigné, and are said to have been modified by his friend and colleague Charles François de Mondion, who is buried in a crypt beneath Fort Manoel. At one time, the Knights of Malta considered developing a walled city on Manoel Island, but instead they settled on a fort designed to house up to 500 soldiers. The Fort has a magnificent quadrangle, parade ground and arcade, and once housed a baroque chapel dedicated to St. Anthony of Padua, under the direct command of the Order.
During World War II, when Malta was under siege, Manoel Island and its fort were used as a naval base by the Royal Navy, at which time it was referred to as "HMS Talbot" or "HMS Phœnicia". The Chapel of St. Anthony was destroyed following a direct hit by Luftwaffe bombers in March 1942.
For several years now, Manoel Island houses a quaint, informal sanctuary for ducks and other waterfowl, created and maintained by a local volunteer, and funded entirely by private donations near the bridge connecting the island with the main island.
As of November 2006, the historic fort was undergoing significant restoration and renovation works, and a new housing development was under construction on Manoel Island. The Manoel Island redevelopment project, however, has been heavily criticized due to its proximity to the island's important historical buildings. A guarded barrier some 300 yards after the bridge makes clear, that no public is welcomed for the largest part of the island.
- Manoel Island. Local Councils' Association, 2013. Retrieved 30 December 2013.
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