Fort Saint Michael

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Fort Saint Michael
Forti San Mikiel
Part of the fortifications of Senglea
Senglea, Malta
Malta - Senglea - Triq il-Mons. Panzavecchia + Main Gate + Fort Saint Michael 02 ies.jpg
View of Senglea's land front. Fort Saint Michael was located on the site now occupied by the clock tower.
Coordinates 35°53′4.7″N 14°31′7.5″E / 35.884639°N 14.518750°E / 35.884639; 14.518750
Type Cavalier
Site information
Owner Government of Malta
Condition Part of base survives
Site history
Built 1552–1581
Built by Order of Saint John
Materials Limestone
Fate Partially demolished, 1921
Battles/wars Great Siege of Malta
Garrison information
Past
commanders
Pierre de Monte (1565)

Fort Saint Michael (Maltese: Forti San Mikiel) was a fort in the land front of the city of Senglea, Malta. It was built in the 1550s, and played a significant role in the Great Siege of Malta of 1565. Following the siege, it was rebuilt as Saint Michael Cavalier (Maltese: Kavallier ta' San Mikiel), and was completed in 1581. The cavalier was partially demolished in the 20th century, but part of its base still exists.[1]

Construction and history[edit]

In 1551, the Ottomans attacked Malta and later invaded Gozo. This prompted the Order's Grand Master, Juan de Homedes y Coscon, to strengthen the defences of the island. Two new forts were needed, one on the Sciberras Peninsula, and one on the smaller peninsula then known as Isola di San Michele, which was formed by Dockyard Creek and French Creek in Grand Harbour.

The first stone of the fort on l'Isola was laid on 8 May 1552 by de Homedes himself.[2] The fort was built to a design by the military engineer Pedro Pardo d’Andrera. The second fort, located on the Sciberras Peninsula, was called Fort Saint Elmo.

The fort was extended to a fortified city named Senglea by Grand Master Claude de la Sengle during the Knights' preparations for the anticipated Great Siege of Malta. The siege eventually came in 1565, and St Michael was one of three forts defending the Knights stronghold in Grand Harbour, along with Fort St Angelo and Fort St Elmo. The latter fell, but Fort St Michael and Fort St Angelo both withstood the siege. Fort St Michael was severely damaged, as it had been the scene of some of the most desperate fighting of the siege. It withstood 10 assaults from the Ottoman attackers.[3]

The fortifications of Senglea was rebuilt after the siege, and the redevelopment continued until 1581. Fort St. Michael was converted to a cavalier, consisting of a tower with a casemated interior, which had a terrace platform with ten embrasures.[1]

Destruction[edit]

The seaward bastion known as "the Spur", which is often mistakenly referred to as Fort Saint Michael

St. Michael Cavalier was largely dismantled in 1921 to make way for a school. A small part of the structure's lower section was retained and was used as the base of a clock tower.[1]

Today, the bastion at Senglea Point, which is known as "the Spur", is often mistakenly referred to as Fort Saint Michael, although the fort was actually located at the opposite end of the city.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "St Michael Cavalier - Senglea" (PDF). National Inventory of the Cultural Property of the Maltese Islands. 28 June 2013. Retrieved 13 July 2015. 
  2. ^ Abela, Joe. "Juan d'Homedes (1494–1553)". Senglea Local Council. Retrieved 12 September 2014. 
  3. ^ Portelli, John. "Fort St. Michael". Senglea History. Archived from the original on 4 January 2014. 
  4. ^ DeMartino, Giov (7 March 2012). "Senglea fort misplaced". Times of Malta. Retrieved 12 September 2014.