Fort Chambray Gozo

Fort Chambray Is One Of The Most Exciting Property Investment Opportunities In The Mediterranean. Originally Built By The Knights Of St John, The Fort Combines An Eclectic And Exciting History With An Impressive Future As A Centre For Luxury, Excellence And All The Good Things In Life. Fort Chambray Is An Old City Within A Fortress In Gozo. The Site Was Intended To Be A Fortified City Built By The Knights Of The Order Of St John 250 Years Ago For The Protection Of The Island’s Inhabitants, Particularly From The Ottoman Empire.

Fort Chambray is an old city within a fortress in Gozo. The site was intended to be a fortified city built by the Knights of the Order of StJohn 250 years ago for the protection of the island’s inhibatants, particularly from the Ottoman Empire.

The rehabilitation and development of the Fort, a challenging project currently underway, offers a unique and rare opportunity to create a major and diverse residential, tourist or leisure business operation. It is superbly located within a place of historic and cultural importance, on a safe island offering all the advantages of an unspoilt, warm, Mediterranean climate.

The development comprises a number of new residential blocks built in stone by local tradesmen using traditional methods. The typology and clustering of the buildings have been adopted in a manner that creates a traditional, local village core environment in a modern interpretation to render the entire Fort Chambray: an upmarket, unique development.


A central imposing building, the Knights’ Barracks, is undergoing restoration and will form the nerve centre of the development. The architectural details and historical value of this building can only enhance its use as a Commercial and Conference Centre.

Fort Chambray also overlooks the picturesque bay of Ix-Xatt l-Ahmar and faces the South Comino Channel. The breathtaking view from this point is unforgettable.

Whilst above ground, the development of the Fortified City concept is anchored to local, traditional building methods and stone finishes. A massive construction for car parks and traffic has been built underground, thus ensuring traffic-free residential areas above ground.

Works at Fort Chambray have been sectioned into three phases, with Phase 1 and Phase 2 completed and Phase 3 to be completed. Residents have in fact already started moving in, giving further life to this development.

This traffic-free environment gives a marked beauty to the details of landscaped gardens, open spaces and piazzas that will adorn the residential units.

Fort Chambray is a Special Designated Area.


The Layout

Whilst above ground, the development of the Fortified City concept is anchored to local, traditional building methods and stone finishes. A massive construction for car parks and traffic has been built underground, thus ensuring traffic-free residential areas above ground.

This traffic-free environment gives a marked beauty to the details of landscaped gardens, open spaces and piazzas that will adorn the residential units.

Units available include villas, maisonettes and apartments. 64 of these units are two bedroomed single units whereas the remaining 21 units are divided into two and three bedroomed duplex units. The units located at ground floor are complemented by generous terrace spaces, whereas 19 out of the 21 duplexes also have privately owned roofs.

A large number of units are south-facing and enjoy unobstructed sea views. All units enjoy internal development views and the north-facing units also enjoy country views from both the living and bedroom spaces.

The last stage of completion of the Fort Chambray complex, and incorporates the Knights’ Barracks and Polverista which will be converted into commercial outlets that include retail, food & beverage and entertainment. This phase will also include a total of 200 residential apartments as well as a 100 room boutique spa hotel.


The concept surrounding Fort Chambray is that it will grow to become a self-contained village with all the modern facilities that today’s luxury lifestyle requires.

The residential areas promise to be quiet havens while the communal and commercial sections of the complex will be bustling and full of life – offering residents a nice variety of options for day-to-day living. Investors are buying an integrated package that will incorporate lavish communal areas including pools and gardens, a gymnasium, restaurants, bars, shops, and a boutique hotel.


Historically, the Knights of Malta always intended Fort Chambray to be an entire development, a city planned in a grid-like fashion and incorporating the Knights’ Barracks strategically located at the fulcrum of the whole settlement. The concept has since been developed further to make best use of the historical assets located within the fort, found at a series of nodes and landscaped open spaces at public, semi-public and private interfaces.

This strong urban design concept lies at the foundation of the development’s design, with the resulting blocks located in a manner that exploits the views out of the Fort (both seaward and inward country views), and with the future blocks planned to respect the original historical intent and configuration that links up and relates to the individual historical landmarks and public areas.

Architectural Features

Designing in such a heavily historical and committed context requires a sensible and intelligent approach that does not copy or reproduce, but that reinterprets existing motifs to create a new and complementing design that blends in the particular context that is Fort Chambray, as opposed to competing with the surrounding architectural features. The design objectives have therefore revolved around finding new ways of reinterpreting traditional vernacular architecture and complementing the stonework with timber, metal and glass in a balanced and orderly fashion.

An Environmentally Sensitive Approach

A strong and consistent environmental and energy-efficient approach has been adopted throughout the entire development, from the design of the residential blocks to the open spaces that surround them. The residential blocks are worked in pairs, separated by a partially covered internal street that creates a temperate transitional space between the more exposed outer areas and the internal environments. Indeed, soft and hard landscaping is a prevailing element within the whole project – the open areas are embellished by trees that naturally shade a number of areas, together with a number of water elements (both public water features and private pools within the residences) that help cool the spaces further during the hot summer months.

On a micro scale the external walls of all the residences are double-leaf cavity walls whilst all glazing used is low-emissivity double glazing and the majority of apertures are further supplied with external louvers to block out the sun if required while permitting the opening of the internal glazed aperture even on rainy days to ventilate the rooms. All these measures provide acceptable U-values that comply with the EU’s Energy Directive and that guarantee an efficient energy performance of all the units.


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Before the 16th century, the islands of Malta and Gozo were controlled by first Byzantine, then Norman rulers. As the year 1500 approached, the greatest Christian Power was Spain whose empire included the kingdom of Sicily as well as the Maltese Islands. The defensive arrangements consisted primarily of the fortified city of Mdina in Malta as well as some harbour defences at Birgu and Senglea. Safety for the people of Gozo against incursions by corsairs were non existant. In the event of attack the only recourse was for the entire population to retreat within the walls of the Gran Castello, built at Rabat, Gozo,. His old Citadel was however already inadequate as a defensive installation even by the time of the arrival of the Knights of St John in 1530.

The Knights were a religious, Christain Order, which had become militarised in order to protect pilgrims on their perilous journey to the Holy Lands and which fought in the Crusades of the Middle Ages. They also held one of the strongest naval fleets of the time. For more than two centuries the Order had been based in Rhodes, but in 1522 the powerful Turks led by Suleiman the Magnificent laid siege to Rhodes and after six months evicted the Knights from their homeland.

In 1530 the Emperor Charles V of Spain offered them the Islands of Malta and Gozo. The Order was at first reluctant but the Islands offered superb harbours, an advantage not lost on a maritime power, itself dependent on piracy for its income.

Once established in Malta, it was not long before the Knights were resuming their long struggle with the Ottoman Empire by once again attacking its vessels to reap stolen loot. In 1551 the Corsair Dragut raided Malta and Gozo and whilst Malta held well, Gozo was less fortunate, with the entire population either killed or taken away as slaves, leaving the island practically deserted.

Following another siege in 1565, the Order began a great enterprise in the building of the new city of Valletta and more powerful defensive bastions. Due to lack of finances and other reasons, Gozo was once again left out of this plan and it took until the early 18th century for works to commence, solely thanks to the generous benefactor Jacques de Chambray.

Jacques de Chambray (1687 – 1756) was born into a noble family from Evreus in Normandy, France and arrived in Malta aged just thirteen. Later on he entered the Order’s navy and proved a natural commander and a true buccaneer in the traditions of the Order’s long history. This made him very wealthy and following the capture of one of the greatest Turkish flagships the Sultana, in 1749, he retired from active service to enjoy his wealth and status. At the same time he made an offer to Grandmaster Pinto to use his fortune to undertake the building of the new Fortifications and City at Ras-et-Tafal, Mgarr. The offer was accepted and works on what was to become Fort Chambray began.

Until his death in 1756 Jacques de Chambray had already spent 40,000 Scudi on the project and he had bequeathed one fifth of his property to secure its completion. Work continued after his death and the fortress was finished in 1758, albeit with many alterations from the original plans.

By 1760, Fort Chambray, as the new town was spontaneously called, was ready to attract settlers. It was the best defended and the best provisioned on the island. The town was to have the Governor’s Palace, a parochial church and an administrative building. Besides, each building block was to have a central courtyard to shelter more people in an emergency. The town however never materialised as its need as a refuge in case of attacks was rapidly disappearing due to the increasing presence in the Mediterranean of powerful naval frigates of Dutch, British and French powers, for the protection of their growing trading fleets.

By 1755 the plans for the City had been scaled down but the Fort was almost complete. In 1761 the Fort was lightly armed with a small garrison and 22 cannons (mostly six or eight pounders), but including 5 twenty-four pounders to defend the channel between Gozo and Comino. An effort was made to sell land to the public but this was not successful as the Gozitan people once again began to feel more secure in their existing homes.

In its 250-year life, the Fort experienced only one brief military adventure. In 1798, it defended Gozo against Chambray’s own countrymen, the revolutionary forces of General Bonaparte. The surprise arrival of Napoleon caused Gozo’s population, for the only time, to rush to the new Fort with their animals and possessions, but after a token show of resistance to the powerful French forces, they surrendered the Fort to the French commander.

During the first four decades of British rule, the Fort’s importance diminished. It still continued to be garrisoned and maintained, however, as the years rolled by, it began to be used solely as a barracks. It did however find a new lease of life when a squadron of some 500 British men were stationed there during the Crimean War and the First World War. In a military sense, this made the Fort a self-sufficient small town. The base generated trade for the local population and relations were very good between the two mutually supportive communities.

In 1928 the Fort ceased to be a British Base and was converted in 1934 into civil Hospital facilities. This move proved to be very helpful during the raids of World War II during which the Islands endured their second ‘Great Siege’.

Now, with the dawning of the 21st century, Fort Chambray is being given a new lease of life. Its extensive restoration will turn it into the grand Fort and Town that Jacques de Chambray had envisaged for it 250 years ago!