Fascinating Places in Malta: The Three Cities

Vittoriosa, Cospicua and Senglea

The Three Cities region is without a shadow of a doubt, one of the most fascinating places in Malta. Part of the fascination lies in the fact that these cities are enclosed in the Maltese islands’ largest fortifications!

To this day, Vittoriosa, Cospicua and Senglea still retain that romantic and medieval aura that is hard to find elsewhere on the islands. They’re simply a delight to wander through. Collectively, these three cities are also referred to as Cottonera.


places in malta vittoriosa

Vittoriosa is Malta’s second-oldest town. It’s also known as Birgu.

Out of the three cities, it’s Vittoriosa that has the largest amount of attractions.

So if you’re pressed for time, just focus your exploration on Vittoriosa. You won’t be disappointed!

This captivating city is said to make visitors lose track of time. It’s simply a pleasure to just wander around its countless old alleys.

Besides looking around and simply taking in the atmosphere, Vittoriosa also has some intriguing buildings and museums that you can visit, making it one of the most interesting places in Malta!

Worthy of mention here are the Inquisitor’s Palace and Malta’s Maritime Museum. For full details on museums located in Vittoriosa, visit our Museums in Malta page.

birgu fortifications

Majestic fortifications adorn the city of Vittoriosa to this day. In the old days though, these fortifications (built by the Knights of Malta) protected the city from enemy attacks!

vittoriosa parish church

The parish church of Birgu ... The huge Freedom Day Monument lies just in front of the church, commemorating the day when the British troops and the Royal Navy withdrew from the islands.

vittoriosa waterfront

Vittoriosa waterfront and yacht marina, a poshy area with an evocative ambience where you can relax and watch the world go by, at one of the many stylish restaurants, cafeterias and wine bars.

Senglea and Cospicua

Senglea (also known as L-Isla) and Cospicua (also known as Bormla) were heavily bombarded during World War II so very little remains of the historic monuments and buildings that once adorned these two cities.

Still, if you have some spare time on your hands and you’d like to wander around two cities that are not often on the typical tourist’s radar, then Senglea and Cospicua are two places in Malta that you definitely must visit!

senglea parish church

Senglea's parish church

senglea narrow street

A typical narrow street in Senglea ... You can find these type of charming alleys and streets in all of the Three Cities!

senglea malta

Traditional boats at the Senglea marina waiting for their next passengers ... some of these boats are nowadays used as water taxis for short cruises around the Grand Harbour and the Three Cities

senglea maltese boats

A mix of old and new ... traditional Maltese boats right at home at the Senglea & Vittoriosa marina, sometimes stealing the limelight from the huge, swanky yachts that surround them!

The city of Cospicua was built on five hills. Studies indicate that the city has been inhabited since Prehistoric times!

It is believed that Prehistoric people lived in Bormla because of its proximity to the sea. So most probably, its first inhabitants were fishermen.

cospicua waterfront bormla

A distant view of the Cospicua waterfront

Like the other two cities, Cospicua is surrounded by massive fortifications! In fact, in Cospicua you will see not one but two sets of fortifications.

Historians say that after the Great Siege of Malta in 1565, the Knights were still living in fear of other “new” Muslim attacks. So they decided to strenghten their fortifications even further!

How did they do this? They built another set of fortifications ... and this time round they made them even larger than the first ones they built!

It is said that it took the Knights of Malta some 100 years to complete all the fortifications that surround the three cities, finishing the last set in 1736! And they’re still standing proudly to this day. Impressive isn’t it?

Getting there

For information and details on bus routes that serve this fascinating area, visit www.publictransport.com.mt.

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