Fort San Lucian

Fort San Lucian ( Maltese : Forti San Lucjan ), Also Known As St Lucian Tower ( Maltese : Torri ta ‘San Lucjan ) or Fort Rohan ( Maltese : Forti Rohan ) is a broad bastioned watchtower and polygonal strong in Marsaxlokk , Malta . The original tower was built by the Order of Saint John between 1610 and 1611, being the second of six Wignacourt towers . An artillery batterywas added in around 1715, and the complex was upgraded into a strong in the 1790s. In the 1870s, the fort was rebuilt by the British in the polygonal style.

St. Lucian Tower is the second largest watchtower in Malta, after St. Thomas Tower . Today, the tower is used by the Malta Aquaculture Research Center.


Tower and battery

Saint Lucian Tower was built on the shore of Marsaxlokk Bay on the headland between Marsaxlokk and Birżebbuġa . According to local legends, a woman is said to have had a dream in which St. John advised her to tell the Grand Master to fortify the area around Marsaxlokk since an Ottoman attack was imminent. The woman told the parish priest, who told the bishop who in turn told Grand Master Alof of Wignacourt . The Grand Master did not give any importance to this, but that summer an attack really happened. Therefore, Wignacourt ordered the construction of St. Lucian Tower, which was eventually built between 1610 and 1611. [1]The cost of construction was 11.745 scudi, 2 tari and 6 scudi. Wignacourt had been baptized. [2]

The tower’s design is very similar to the Wignacourt Tower in St. Paul’s Bay , but on a larger scale. A flight of steps to the tower, but this was later demolished by the British. There are claims that it was designed by Vittorio Cassar , [3] but these are disputed since Cassar was probably killed when working on the tower. [4]

Saint Lucian Tower first saw action in July 1614, when it fired its guns on an Ottoman fleet attempting to disembark at Marsaxlokk Bay. The Ottomans left and landed in St. Thomas Bay, and looted some towns and farmland before being forced to retreat by the militia. This event is known as the raid of Żejtun . [5]

The tower was originally armed with 6 cannons, as well as ammunition and other armaments. A small chapel was located within its walls, and it had a titular painting depicting the Martyrdom of St Lucian. The painting was relocated to the parish church of Tarxien in 1799. After the De Redin towers were constructed, St Lucian had Delimara Tower and Bengħisa Tower in its line of sight, but both of these have been demolished.

A semi-circular battery with an arrow-shaped blockhouse was added to the tower in 1715.

Fort Rohan

Between 1792 and 1795, the tower and battery were surrounded by an interlocked-like enclosure. Reviews This was designed by the engineer Antoine Étienne de Tousard , and the complex Was renamed Fort Rohan partner after the reigning Grandmaster, Emmanuel de Rohan-Polduc .

During the French invasion of Malta in 1798, Fort Rohan, then commanded by the Laguérivière Knight, was one of the few forts that offered strong resistance to the invading forces. [6] After the Order left Malta, the name “Fort Rohan” fell into disuse and the tower began to be referred to as “St. Lucian Tower” or “Fort St Lucian” once again. [2]

Entrenchment and redoubt

During the French blockade of 1798-1800 , Fort Rohan was chosen by the British as a source of relief and an evacuation point in the case of the arrival of a French relief force. The map as soon as Was That Were French reinforcements arrived to British soldiers of the 30th and 89th Regiments of Foot Would gather at San Rocco Battery , And They Would retreat to Żabbar under the cover of San Rocco Redoubt . From there, they were to go to Żejtun , and then to Fort Rohan, from where they would embark on their ships in Marsaxlokk Harbor and evacuate the island.

For this purpose, Saint Lucian Entrenchment was built from the point of view of Ferretti Battery to Vendome Redoubt , effectively cutting off the tower of the peninsula from the rest of the island. The interstage was built in 1799 by the British military with the assistance of the Maltese engineer Matteo Bonavia. A diamond shaped redoubt , known as Saint Lucian Redoubt, was built some distance ahead of the entrenchment, to provide cover for retreating forces. Both the drama and the entrenchment were demolished after the blockade, and no traces of them can be seen today. [7]

Fort San Lucian

When Malta fell under British rule permanently, they substantially extended the fort and the original tower forms the core of a Victorian era fortress. Between 1872 and 1878, the battery was dismantled, and a new polygonal fort was built instead, with the entire facility being renamed Fort Saint Lucian. The fort has caponiers , a sunken gate, and a curved entrance ramp. On the seaward side the tower has-been extended to form a low battery, with three wide bunkers facing out across Marsaxlokk Bay Towards Fort Delimara . The fort was equipped with RML 10 inch 18 ton guns. St Lucian formed part of a ring of Victorian fortresses that protected Marsaxlokk Bay which also included Fort Delimara, Fort Tas-Silġ and Fort Benghisa .

The fort was decommissioned in 1885, but was used as a Royal Air Force bomb depot between World War II and the 1960s. Nuclear weapons were also stored at San Lucian during the Cold War . [8] At some points, the fort was also used as a prison jail. It was handed over to the Government of Malta on independence in 1964. [9]

The tower was included on the Antiquities List of 1925. [10]

Present day

After the fort was handed over to the government, it was administered by the University of Malta , initially by the Architecture Department and later as Marine Biology Station. In 1988, it was given to the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries to accommodate the National Aquaculture Center, now known as the Malta Aquaculture Research Center. It remains in the hands of the aquaculture center, [9] the government is considering its relocation. [8]

The strong is in the good condition, although some damage was inflicted on the part of it of its conversion into an aquaculture center. [11] The ditch is somewhat overgrown, and the casemates are empty, the guns long gone. If the aquaculture center relocates elsewhere, it will probably be restored to a historical attraction. [8]

The fort and tower are open to the public for individuals or small groups of 2 to 5 people every Saturday morning. Larger groups can make an appointment to visit the fort. [1] As of September 2017 saturday tours are suspended – no information coming soon.

In popular culture

  • The tower is featured in the fiction book Il-Misteru ta ‘San Lujan (The Mystery of Saint Lucian) by Charles Casha published in 1997.
  • The tower was depicted on a Sovereign Military Order of Malta stamp in 1972, [12] and on a Maltese stamp in 2006. [13]


  1. ^ Jump up to:b “Torri ta ‘San Lucjan (Fort St Lucian)” . Malta Bulb . Retrieved 31 August 2014 .
  2. ^ Jump up to:b “St Lucian Fort” (PDF) . Mare Nostrum . Archived from the original(PDF) on 3 September 2014 . Retrieved 31 August 2014 .
  3. Jump up^ Schiavone, Michael J. (2009). Dictionary of Maltese Biographies Vol. 1 AF . Pietà : Pubblikazzjonijiet Indipendenza. p. 534. ISBN  9789993291329 .
  4. Jump up^ Spiteri, Stephen C. (2013). “In Defense of the Coast (I) – The Bastioned Towers” . Arx – International Journal of Military Architecture and Fortification (3): 24-33 . Retrieved 30 April 2015 .
  5. Jump up^ Agius, Raymond (May 2012). “Walk around the coast of Malta – ‘from tower to tower ‘ ” . . Archived from the original on 8 September 2015 . Retrieved 30 April 2015 .
  6. Jump up^ Notice on the occupation of Malta in 1798 by the French Army. Reply to an assertion advanced by M. de Conny in his Histoire de la Revolution Francaise (in French). Paris : Bookstore of Paulin. 1843. p. 27.
  7. Jump up^ Spiteri, Stephen C. (May 2008). “Maltese ‘siege’ batteries of the blockade 1798-1800” (PDF) . Arx – Online Journal of Military Architecture and Fortification (6): 45-46 . Retrieved 19 April 2015 .
  8. ^ Jump up:c “Relocation of National Aquaculture Center should be top priority – FWA” . Times of Malta . 27 July 2013 . Retrieved 30 April 2015 .
  9. ^ Jump up to:b “History of Fort San Lucjan” . Ministry for Sustainable Development, the Environment and Climate Change . Retrieved 30 April 2015 .
  10. Jump up^ “Protection of Antiquities Regulations 21st November, 1932 Government Notice 402 of 1932, as amended by Government Notices 127 of 1935 and 338 of 1939” . Malta Environment and Planning Authority . Archived fromthe original on 19 April 2016.
  11. Jump up^ Minuti, Joe (20 August 2003). “Fort San Lucjan” . Times of Malta . Retrieved 30 April 2015 .
  12. Jump up^ “Emission 18 – Antichi Castelli dell’Ordine” . . Retrieved 30 April 2015 .
  13. Jump up^ “Castles & Towers” . MaltaPost . Retrieved 22 April 2015 .

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