Senglea (L-Isla)

Senglea (L-Isla) This small city, one of the Three Cities, stands on a narrow promontory jutting into the Grand Harbour and was almost cut off from the mainland, which explains its older name L'Isla (derived from the Italian world Isola meaning "island"). It acquired the name Senglea after it was in part fortified in 1553 by Grand Master Claude de la Sengle. The "Gardjola" a stone watchtower jutting out from the bastion point at the end of the peninsula still remains an historic symbol of the sentinels that once guarded the city. It rivals Fort St. Angelo as an iconic image used frequently as a landmark for the Grand Harbour. Until after the arrival of the Order of St. John Senglea, virtually uninhabited, was used as a hunting ground. During the Great Siege of 1565, Senglea came under massive attack but the Ottomans never managed to breach its walls. It was protected by Fort St. Michael on its landward side and in part from maritime assault by Fort St. Angelo on the tip of Birgu across the creek. The heroic role played by its defenders led Grand Master Jean de la Valette to give the city the title of Citta' Invicta, the invincible city. In the mid 19th century the British converted the wharves along French Creek on the east side of Senglea into a naval dockyard. Whilst the shipyard brought work and prosperity to Senglea, it also made it a primary target for bombing raids during World War II. Like its sister cities, Senglea suffered heavy damage from bombing and more than 75 percent of its buildings were destroyed. Today the city is noted for its superb harbour views from Safe Haven Gardens at Senglea Point. Refurbishment of the promenade, which has many restaurants and cafes, has given Senglea a vantage point from where to enjoy stunning vistas of Fort St. Angelo, the Birgu marina and the imposing bastions of Valletta.

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