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.