Fort San Lucian

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Fort San Lucian_table_infobox_0

Fort San LucianFort San Lucian_header_cell_0_0_0
CoordinatesFort San Lucian_header_cell_0_1_0 Fort San Lucian_cell_0_1_1
TypeFort San Lucian_header_cell_0_2_0 Bastioned coastal watchtower

Artillery battery Polygonal fortFort San Lucian_cell_0_2_1

Site informationFort San Lucian_header_cell_0_3_0
Controlled byFort San Lucian_header_cell_0_4_0 Malta Aquaculture Research CentreFort San Lucian_cell_0_4_1
Open to

the publicFort San Lucian_header_cell_0_5_0

NoFort San Lucian_cell_0_5_1
ConditionFort San Lucian_header_cell_0_6_0 IntactFort San Lucian_cell_0_6_1
Site historyFort San Lucian_header_cell_0_7_0
BuiltFort San Lucian_header_cell_0_8_0 1610–1611 (tower)

1715 (battery) 1792–1795 (first fort) 1872–1878 (second fort)Fort San Lucian_cell_0_8_1

Built byFort San Lucian_header_cell_0_9_0 Order of Saint John (tower, battery and first fort)

British Empire (second fort)Fort San Lucian_cell_0_9_1

In useFort San Lucian_header_cell_0_10_0 1610–1885Fort San Lucian_cell_0_10_1
MaterialsFort San Lucian_header_cell_0_11_0 LimestoneFort San Lucian_cell_0_11_1
Battles/warsFort San Lucian_header_cell_0_12_0 Raid of Żejtun (1614)

French invasion of Malta (1798) Siege of Malta (1798–1800)Fort San Lucian_cell_0_12_1

Fort San Lucian (Maltese: Forti San Luċjan), also known as Saint Lucian Tower (Maltese: Torri ta' San Luċjan) or Fort Rohan (Maltese: Forti Rohan), is a large bastioned watchtower and polygonal fort in Marsaxlokk, Malta. Fort San Lucian_sentence_0

The original tower was built by the Order of Saint John between 1610 and 1611, being the second of six Wignacourt towers. Fort San Lucian_sentence_1

An artillery battery was added in around 1715, and the complex was upgraded into a fort in the 1790s. Fort San Lucian_sentence_2

In the 1870s, the fort was rebuilt by the British in the polygonal style. Fort San Lucian_sentence_3

Saint Lucian Tower is the second largest watchtower in Malta, after Saint Thomas Tower. Fort San Lucian_sentence_4

Today, the tower and fort are used by the Malta Aquaculture Research Centre. Fort San Lucian_sentence_5

History Fort San Lucian_section_0

Tower and battery Fort San Lucian_section_1

Saint Lucian Tower was built above the shore of Marsaxlokk Bay on the headland between Marsaxlokk and Birżebbuġa. Fort San Lucian_sentence_6

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. Fort San Lucian_sentence_7

The woman told the parish priest, who told the bishop who in turn told Grand Master Alof de Wignacourt. Fort San Lucian_sentence_8

The Grand Master did not give any importance to this, but that summer an attack really happened. Fort San Lucian_sentence_9

Therefore, Wignacourt ordered the construction of St Lucian Tower, which was eventually built between 1610 and 1611. Fort San Lucian_sentence_10

The cost of construction was 11,745 scudi, 2 tari and 6 scudi. Fort San Lucian_sentence_11

The tower was named after a church in France in which Wignacourt had been baptized. Fort San Lucian_sentence_12

The tower's design is very similar to the Wignacourt Tower in St. Fort San Lucian_sentence_13 Paul's Bay, but on a larger scale. Fort San Lucian_sentence_14

A flight of steps led to the tower, but this was later demolished by the British. Fort San Lucian_sentence_15

There are claims that it was designed by Vittorio Cassar, but these are disputed since Cassar was probably dead when work on the tower began. Fort San Lucian_sentence_16

Saint Lucian Tower first saw action in July 1614, when it fired its guns on an Ottoman fleet attempting to disembark at Marsaxlokk Bay. Fort San Lucian_sentence_17

The Ottomans left and landed in St. Thomas Bay, and pillaged some towns and farmland before being forced to retreat by the militia. Fort San Lucian_sentence_18

This event is known as the raid of Żejtun. Fort San Lucian_sentence_19

The tower was originally armed with 6 cannons, as well as ammunition and other armaments. Fort San Lucian_sentence_20

A small chapel was located within its walls, and it had a titular painting depicting the Martyrdom of St Lucian. Fort San Lucian_sentence_21

The painting was relocated to the parish church of Tarxien in 1799. Fort San Lucian_sentence_22

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 since been demolished. Fort San Lucian_sentence_23

A semi-circular battery with an arrow-shaped blockhouse was added to the tower in 1715. Fort San Lucian_sentence_24

Fort Rohan Fort San Lucian_section_2

Between 1792 and 1795, the tower and battery were surrounded by a ditch and enclosed within an entrenchment-like enclosure. Fort San Lucian_sentence_25

This was designed by the engineer Antoine Étienne de Tousard, and the complex was renamed Fort Rohan after the reigning Grandmaster, Emmanuel de Rohan-Polduc. Fort San Lucian_sentence_26

During the French invasion of Malta in 1798, Fort Rohan, then commanded by the knight Laguérivière, was one of the few forts that offered strong resistance to the invading forces. Fort San Lucian_sentence_27

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. Fort San Lucian_sentence_28

Entrenchment and redoubt Fort San Lucian_section_3

During the French blockade of 1798-1800, Fort Rohan was chosen by the British (who were allied to the Maltese insurgents against the French) as a supply base and an evacuation point in the case of the arrival of a French relief force. Fort San Lucian_sentence_29

The plan was that as soon as French reinforcements were to arrive, 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. Fort San Lucian_sentence_30

From there, they were to go to Żejtun, and then to Fort Rohan, from where they would embark on their ships in Marsaxlokk Harbour and evacuate the island. Fort San Lucian_sentence_31

For this purpose, Saint Lucian Entrenchment was built stretching from near Ferretti Battery to Vendôme Redoubt, effectively cutting off the tower's peninsula from the rest of the island. Fort San Lucian_sentence_32

The entrenchment was built in 1799 by the British military with the assistance of the Maltese engineer Matteo Bonavia. Fort San Lucian_sentence_33

A diamond shaped redoubt, known as Saint Lucian Redoubt, was built some distance ahead of the entrenchment, to provide cover for retreating forces. Fort San Lucian_sentence_34

Both the redoubt and the entrenchment were demolished after the blockade, and no traces of them can be seen today. Fort San Lucian_sentence_35

Fort San Lucian Fort San Lucian_section_4

When Malta fell under British rule permanently, they substantially extended the fort and the original tower now forms the core of a Victorian era fortress. Fort San Lucian_sentence_36

Between 1872 and 1878, the battery, enclosure and the flight of steps leading to the tower were dismantled, and a new polygonal fort was built instead, with the entire installation being renamed Fort Saint Lucian. Fort San Lucian_sentence_37

The fort has caponiers, a sunken gate, and a curved entrance ramp. Fort San Lucian_sentence_38

On the seaward side the tower has been extended to form a low battery, with three large casemates facing out across Marsaxlokk Bay towards Fort Delimara. Fort San Lucian_sentence_39

The fort was equipped with RML 10 inch 18 ton guns. Fort San Lucian_sentence_40

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. Fort San Lucian_sentence_41

The fort was decommissioned in 1885, but was used as a Royal Air Force bomb depot between World War II and the 1960s. Fort San Lucian_sentence_42

Nuclear weapons were also possibly stored at San Lucian during the Cold War. Fort San Lucian_sentence_43

At some points, the fort was also used as a military prison. Fort San Lucian_sentence_44

It was handed to the Government of Malta upon independence in 1964. Fort San Lucian_sentence_45

The tower was included on the Antiquities List of 1925. Fort San Lucian_sentence_46

Present day Fort San Lucian_section_5

After the fort was handed to the government, it was administered by the University of Malta, initially by the Architecture Department and later as a Marine Biology Station. Fort San Lucian_sentence_47

In 1988, it was given to the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries to accommodate National Aquaculture Centre, now known as the Malta Aquaculture Research Centre. Fort San Lucian_sentence_48

It remains in the hands of the aquaculture centre to this day, although the government is considering its relocation. Fort San Lucian_sentence_49

The fort is in generally good condition, although some damage was inflicted on parts of it since its conversion into an aquaculture centre. Fort San Lucian_sentence_50

The ditch is somewhat overgrown, and the casemates are empty, the guns long gone. Fort San Lucian_sentence_51

If the aquaculture centre relocates elsewhere, the fort will possibly be restored and turned into a historical attraction. Fort San Lucian_sentence_52

The fort and tower are open to the public for individuals or small groups of 2 to 5 people every Saturday morning. Fort San Lucian_sentence_53

Larger groups can make an appointment to visit the fort. Fort San Lucian_sentence_54

As of September 2017 Saturday tours are suspended - no information forthcoming on whether they will recommence. Fort San Lucian_sentence_55

In popular culture Fort San Lucian_section_6

Fort San Lucian_unordered_list_0

  • The tower is featured in the fiction book Il-Misteru ta' San Luċjan (The Mystery of Saint Lucian) by Charles Casha published in 1997.Fort San Lucian_item_0_0
  • The tower was depicted on a Sovereign Military Order of Malta stamp in 1972, and on a Maltese stamp in 2006.Fort San Lucian_item_0_1

Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: San Lucian.