FORT ST. ELMO
|The actual fort was built on the design of Pietro Padro in 1552. It was built because since in 1551 Dragut succeeded to
enter the Grand Harbour and threaten Birgu (he was repulsed by Fort St. Angelo) and latter also invaded Gozo, the
Knights had a threatening and imminent Ottoman Turkish invasion in mind. They wanted to repeal the Turks
before they entered the Great Harbour and not after they enter (that is from Fort
St. Angelo, which is found inside the Grand Harbour). Therefore after Dragut's attack
of 1551, the Knights built Fort St. Elmo at the entrance of the Grand Harbour in order to protect the entrance
to the natural harbour and the Order's great fleet in it. One must keep in mind that the Order's fleet was very
important for the Knights' existence. Fort St. Elmo was built at the tip of "Sceberras" Peninsula, where
Malta's capital city Valletta is now located.
Fort St. Elmo has the shape of a four-pointed star, with a massive fortified wall or bastion protecting it from the seaward side and another bastion together with a surrounding ditch offering protection from land.
After the Great Siege of 1565, Fort St. Elmo, which was temporally won by the Turks and heavily damage during the process, was restored during the course of the seventeenth century. A new enceinte (a surrounding protective wall) was constructed around the fort, thereby connecting it to the new capital city of Valletta.
Fort St. Elmo's vigilant days are now over and the upper part of the fort is today used by the Malta Police Force as a Police Academy. Part of it is also used as a War Museum. The lower part of the Fort owes its more recent fame as the site for the shooting of the film "Midnight Express". Nowadays, Fort St. Elmo is also used for historical re-enactments about the Knights of Malta.