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Vittoriosa or Birgu as it is known in Maltese, is an old fortified city on the south side of the Grand Harbour in the South Eastern Region of Malta. It is situated on an outcrop of land with Fort Saint Angelo located at its head and the town of Cospicua at its base. It is ideally situated for safe mooring and developed a long history associated with maritime activity such as the mercantile fleet and the military.. The area dates back to medieval times. It served as the base of the Order of Saint John and the de facto capital city of Malta from 1530 to 1571. Vittoriosa was the scene of a major battle during the Great Siege of Malta in 1565. Its population stands at around 3000, but with regeneration of the area it is attracting many more residents and has become a trendy place to live with the demand for property for sale in Vittoriosa or Birgu at an all-time high.
Over time, Vittoriosa has seen the Phoenicians, the Greeks, the Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, and Normans and of course the Order of Saint John all contributing to the development of the area of Birgu.
With the Castle of St Angelo at its centre, the city was fortified in the 1530s and again strengthened in the 1550’s in preparation for an invasion by the Ottoman Empire. Post the occupation of Malta by Napoleon in 1798, the French forces were stationed here. The Royal Navy’s Mediterranean Fleet established its base in Birgu and remained till 1979.
Birgu was heavily bombed during World War II and in recent years The Catholic Order of Knighthood has returned to Birgu, granting the Knights of Malta the exclusive use of Fort St Angelo for 99 years.
Vittoriosa is extremely popular with tourists with many visiting the Vittoriosa Waterfront where one can see the former Palace of the General of the Galleys and the Order of St John’s treasury. This entire area was redeveloped after 2000 and both buildings are currently used for other activities such as a casino and a maritime museum. A second museum, the Birgu 1565 Museum, is also located in the town and is dedicated to the siege and the battle in the town in 1565. There are several churches in the parish and their respective feasts are very popular among locals for the decoration of the local streets.
Notable are the Vittoriosa Festival of Candle Lights and the Grand Harbour Marina where one can spot many luxury super yachts.