Vittoriosa, or Birgu, one of the Three Cities, lies on one of the promontories jutting into Grand Harbour, opposite Valletta.
At its tip is Fort St. Angelo, perhaps the oldest fortification on the Islands. The strategic position of both fort and city over the millennia has led some to call this area `the cradle of Maltese history'. Certainly settlers and rulers from the Phoenicians to the British all made use of the defences here. To honour the part played by the city of Birgu, Grand Master La Valette renamed it Civitas Vittoriosa, `Victorious Town'. Vittoriosa was the first home of the Knights when they arrived in 1530. As such, it contains many important architectural riches. The Knights `auberges' (inns of residence), palaces and churches here are older than those in Valletta.
Highlights include the Church of St. Lawrence, designed by Malta's most prominent baroque architect, Lorenzo Gafa', the Inquisitor's Palace, Fort St. Angelo and the Maritime Museum.
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