Fort Tas-Silġ

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Fort Tas-Silġ
Il-Fortizza tas-Silġ
Marsaxlokk, Malta
Malta - Marsaxlokk - Triq Delimara - Fort Tas-Silg 10 ies.jpg
Fort Tas-Silġ
Coordinates35°50′24″N 14°33′25″E / 35.84000°N 14.55694°E / 35.84000; 14.55694
TypePolygonal fort
Area60,000 m2 (650,000 sq ft)[1]
Site information
OwnerGovernment of Malta
Controlled byThe Island Sanctuary
Open to
the public
ConditionIntact but neglected
Site history
Built byBritish Empire
In use1883–1960
MaterialsLimestone and Concrete

Fort Tas-Silġ (formerly written as Fort Ta Silc,[2] Maltese: Il-Fortizza tas-Silġ) is a polygonal fort in Marsaxlokk, Malta. It was built between 1879 and 1883 by the British on high ground at the shoreward end of Delimara Point, above il-Ħofra-ż-Żgħira. Its primary function was as a fire control point controlling the massed guns of Fort Delimara on the headland below.

It was part of a chain of fortifications intended to protect Marsaxlokk Harbour, along with Fort Delimara seaward along Delimara point, the north arm of Marsaxlokk Bay, Fort San Lucian on Kbira point in the middle of the bay, Fort Benghisa on Bengħisa Point, and the Pinto and Ferretti batteries on the shores of the bay.

Approximately 300 metres north of Fort Tas-Silġ is the Saint Paul's Battery, a much smaller polygonal style fortification, that is in much worse repair.


The first stone of Fort Tas-Silġ was laid down in 1879 after a suggestion by British military engineers, and it was completed in 1883.[3] The fort is a classic example of a polygonal fort, and it had underground barracks and magazines, and a spacious parade ground. The fort is surrounded by a ditch, and the entrance was protected with gun ports on one side and a bridge leading to the door.

The fort's design and location was criticized by a number of military engineers, and its armament of six RML 64 pounder 64 cwt guns was changed a number of times before being removed in 1903.

In the 1950s the Fort was used by the RAF (100 Signals Unit). During this time the Camp mascot was a dog named Dodger. Later, the dog Rusty and bitch Scrubber were pets on the unit. Scrubber gave birth to 14 puppies, all of which found homes elsewhere on Malta.[4] One of the three Aerials on the camp was used in the 1953 film Malta Story.

The fort was finally decommissioned and handed to civilian authorities in 1960.

Present day[edit]

Since 1991, the fort has been rented to the Island Sanctuary as a refuge for dogs.[5] The sanctuary pays the government an annual rent of €232 for use of the fort.[6]

The gatehouse, and the shoreward ditch are in fair repair, but there has been considerable collapse of the inner face of the north ditch.

In 2015, the fort was shortlisted as a possible site for the campus of the proposed American University of Malta. It was not chosen, and the campus is to be split up between Dock No. 1 in Cospicua and Żonqor Point in Marsaskala.[7]



  1. ^ "The American University of Malta - Preliminary Alternative Sites Evaluation Report" (PDF). Office of the Prime Minister. August 2015. p. 11. Archived from the original (PDF) on 16 November 2015.
  2. ^ Castillo, Dennis Angelo (2006). The Maltese Cross: A Strategic History of Malta. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 135. ISBN 0313323291.
  3. ^ "Delimara Gas and Power Combined Cycle Gas Turbine and Liquefied Natural Gas receiving, storage and re-gasification facilities - Environmental Impact Assessment - Appendix Two Volume One" (PDF). MEPA. ERSLI Consultants Ltd on behalf of Enemalta Corporation. 20 December 2013. pp. 26–28. Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 March 2015.
  4. ^ Debattista, Martin (23 December 2012). "Adopt a beautiful abandoned dog". Times of Malta. Retrieved 31 December 2014.
  5. ^ "About us". The Island Sanctuary. Retrieved 31 December 2014.
  6. ^ Debono, James (21 December 2011). "Benghajsa fort to be returned to government". Malta Today. Retrieved 31 December 2014.
  7. ^ "'American' University to occupy Dock 1 buildings and reduced Zonqor site". Times of Malta. 20 August 2015. Retrieved 20 August 2015.