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Cottonera (Three Cities) - the ‘three cities‘: Vittoriosa, Cospicua and Senglea

Cottonera (Three Cities) - the ‘three cities‘: Vittoriosa, Cospicua and Senglea

The word Cottonera describes the three cities: Vittoriosa (Birgu), Senglea (L‘Isla) and Cospicua (Bormla). The peninsula in the middle, Vittoriosa, was the only peninsula of the three peninsulas which was inhabited at the arrival of the Knights of St. John. In the past the city was called ‘Borgo del Castello‘. That‘s where the name Birgu comes from. Valletta didn‘t exist at that time.

The new name, Vittoriosa, is after the Great Siege of the Turkish. Vittoriosa means ‘the victory‘ and is still the honored name of the city. In 1552 the Grand Master Claude de la Sengle started the fortification of the neighboring peninsula. The Knight Order gave many people work and soon both of the peninsulas were overpopulated. The consequence was that many people settled down between those two peninsulas. The Knights of St. John called this city Cospicua, or today Bormla.

These cities are known as the ‘Three Cities‘. They are all older than Valletta. In 1571 the Order moved to Valletta. In 1638 the Margerita Lines and in (1670-80) the Cottonera Lines were completed. This fortification still exists today.

The three bays between the peninsulas are known as Kalkara, Dockyard Creek (between Vittoriosa and Senglea) and French Creek (today the seat of the harbor).

During the Second World War the cities were strongly bombed, because of the harbor which is located in this area. Huge areas of the residential areas and the dockyard were destroyed.

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There is so much to see in Vittoriosa - the whole city is an open-air museum. The city is surrounded by an incredible flair of history, culture and modernity. The structure of the city equals that of a triangle. On the side facing to the inland there is a big city-wall with two gates. The most interesting way to enter the city is through the Couvre Porte. The side directed to the harbor entrance is also fortified. On the fortification, high above the sea, there is a nice promenade. From there you have a nice view on Valletta, the harbor gate and Kalkara. On the tip of the city is the Fort St. Angelo. The fort is stunning. The last side of the triangle, the side facing the Dockyard Creek/Senglea, has no fortification. There you can find the Casino de Venezia, Maritime Museum, St. Lawrence Church and a luxury hotel. In the city itself something is awaiting you around every corner. In the centre lies the Victory-Square - the square got his name after the Great Siege 1565 of the Turkish. It is said that the Grandmaster La Vallette was wounded during the siege on a fight at the fortification ’Poste de Castille’. The Turkish were already inside the city when the Grandmaster counterattacked them together with his personal body-guards.




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