Friday, March 20, 2009

St. Agatha's Tower a.k.a. Red Tower



St. Agatha's Tower in Malta is similar in style to the Wignacourt towers, though it was completed in 1649 during the Grand Mastership of Juan de Lascaris-Castellar to a design by Antonio Garsin. It is also known as the Red Tower due to the colour it is painted.


St. Agatha's Tower is commonly referred to as the Red Tower. The original structure is a square tower with four square corner towers with cannon ports in the towers giving interlocking fields of fire commanding the base of the walls and the gateway, with large cannon ports in the faces of the main tower. The outer walls are approximately four meters thick at the base and the interior of the tower is enclosed by a barrel vaulted roof. The corner towers are surmounted by very characteristic fish tail crenelations.

The Tower is situated in a commanding position on the crest of Marfa Ridge at the north west end of Malta, overlooking the natural harbour and obvious landing site of Mellieħa Bay with clear views over to Comino and Gozo, and also eastward to the line of watchtowers along the north shore of Malta that linked it with the Knights headquarters in Valletta. It was the Knights' primary stronghold in the west of Malta, and was manned by a garrison of 30 men, with ammunition and supplies to withstand a siege of 40 days.

Like many of the Knights' early defensive structures, during the 18th century it was strengthened by the addition of a much lower profile battery around its flanks. It continued to have a military function throughout the British period, and was manned during both World Wars. From the British period it continued its military function being used as a radar station by the Armed Forces of Malta.

By the close of the 20th century the tower was in poor repair with one turret completely missing and another turret severely damaged. The Tower was the substantially restored by Din l-Art Helwa starting in 1999, with restoration being completed in 2001, assisted by substantial industrial sponsorship. As part of the restoration work the damaged towers were replaced, the walls and were roof rebuilt and eroded stone facing replaced, the interior walls scraped and painted, the original floor uncovered, and the interior staircase to the roof rebuilt. Due to the extreme unevenness of the floor, this was recently covered by a wooden surface with glass apertures through which one can view the original slabs. The Tower is now in the care of Din l-Art Helwa and is open to the public.

Photo taken by my husband whilst I was driving towards the Gozo Ferry.

7 comments:

marie6 said...

If you drive further along past that tower, you can stop the car and get to enjoy one of the most beautiful views of Malta, and as a bonus you get to see both sides of the island as that's the narrowest part of Malta, where we resemble it to the fish's tail on our map.

marie6 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dina said...

Marie6, in the past we did stop and walk up there. Trully there is a spectacular view, however when we took the photo we were driving on the main road towards the ferry.

Steve Harris said...

What a great looking structure. It looks almost exactly what you'd expect a traditional castle to look like. Very nice shot.

Christopher Raun Leth said...

The Red Tower is a magnificent structure. BTW it was used as the setting for a Danish tv-serie for children called Dracula's Ring.

Malta Tourist said...

Thanks for all the Malta photos. First time I have seen your blog but it's a great idea and brings back memories of my trips to Malta. I look forward to visiting often.

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