The building has been recently renovated and stands proud as a slice of Valletta’s fortifications itself. It was restored as part of a programme of ongoing works on the Valletta bastions, so is in a fitting location. Within, you’ll find helpful video information guides, multi-lingual, and various touch screens that trace the history of the fortifications, covering their designed, built and purpose, as well as introducing us to life within them; ie. how the they were provided with basics like water and heating. The Centre has a variety of models, many made by the Stephen Spiteri, which perfectly reproduce the morphology of the territory and that describe the methods deployed by the military architects of the time to protect Valletta’s garrisons and populace from enemy attack. There are many informative panels that describe the various types of fortifications around the world (the Centre places Malta’s fortification within a wider context).
You can opt to take a free guided tour lasting an hour and a half. On our visit, the guide was immensely knowledgeable and took care and time to explain every detail and answer numerous questions. With a guided tour, you get to find out some hidden and curious facts and details; for instance, our guide pointed out that the drawbridge would have been made in pine as this wood was able to flex, but not break, under the weight of heavy goods while other woods would have proved too brittle. Larchwood was used to clad it and give it durability.
Another curiosity can be found in the walls, which are built not only upward but also downward, in the sense that they were hollowed out of the rock; the walls are between 7 to 10 metres because they are composed of two layers, in between which is stone and rubble. This triple layer construction makes the fortifications incredibly robust and resistant to enemy attack, especially after the introduction of canon. Another amazing fact, which is almost impossible to fathom even with today’s building prowess, is that the construction of the fortifications was completed in just 15 years!
St. Mark street,