Dominating the tip of Vittoriosa, Fort St Angelo has always been of great importance because of its strategic position. Because of the role it has played throughout Maltese history, particularly during the Great Siege of 1565, the fort has great emotional significance for the Maltese people. It has gone through various changes throughout its history and the need of restoring its condition to that of its former days of glory has long been felt.
The most urgent phase was that of halting the deterioration of certain areas which were in a dangerous state of collapse. This prompted a controlled access and indeed a temporary closure of the fort to avoid health and safety hazards. Another important decision taken was that all accretions built or added after 1979 would be removed to give the fort the same look it had when it was last used for a military purpose.
Several smaller restoration works have been carried out to date. These include the full restoration of the “Great Siege Bell”, its bellcot and a room on the cavalier. The restoration works used the traditional “deffun” for the roof of the Polverista and comprised work on a ramp abutting the cavalier and the removal of a swimming pool and adjacent amenities built during the 1980s. The iron beams inserted by the British as a reinforcement of the entrance vault, which had suffered a direct hit during World War II, were removed as, after 70 years, they had rusted considerably and were creating an additional hazard both to the fort?s fabric and to life and limb.
Furthermore, in recent months both the fort’s main gate and ramp were fully restored. Presently, Heritage Malta is in the process of reconstructing the De Guiral sally port which suffered extensive damage after receiving another direct hit in World War II. For the near future, the reinstatement of the fort’s vaulted main entrance, another victim of the latter war’s bombardments, is envisaged. To date, some of these works have already revealed important ruins dating back to the fort’s Medieval and Hospitaller periods.
All works are being carried out by Heritage Malta’s Projects Department and private contractors, in collaboration with the curatorial team. In addition the works are being supervised by the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage.
The next step in the fort’s restoration will undoubtedly entail much work and it involves a thorough study of those aspects and questions, which, up to now, have been unresolved. Following the compilation of a Cost Benefit Analysis in 2010, Heritage Malta subsequently applied for funding through the European Regional Development Fund in 2011. Such application deemed successful and in March 2012 the Agency was allocated the sum of €13,390,000 for the conservation, restoration and reuse of all areas and pre-1979 buildings within the Fort under the patronage of Heritage Malta. The completed restoration project will ensure the accessibility to a historical site which will undoubtedly offer visitors a unique experience.