What to do
The Three Cities have provided a home and protection to almost every people who settled in the islands and the Cottonera area offers an intriguing insight into Malta’s maritime history.
A stroll along the beautifully restored waterfront from L-Isla, via Cospicua and Birgu to Kalkara is a great way to enjoy magnificent views of Malta’s most splendid fortifications that line the Grand Harbour. Many restaurants and bars are located here and are a great place to stop and lounge with a coffee or glass of wine, or for dining al fresco. And, if many of the views look familiar to visitors, this because the area has been used as a backdrop for the filming of several blockbuster movies including Troy, Gladiator and The Count of Monte Christo.
Suggested tours by : Rolling Geeks
Although the area was heavily bombed during the Second World War, many of the splendid churches and buildings that date back to the 16th Century still stand and are open to the public. For history and culture buffs, some places that are definitely worth visiting in Birgu are Fort St Angelo, the Inquisitor’s Palace, the Maritime Museum and the Collachio area which housed the Auberges of the Knights. L-Isla has the Gardjola Gardens which offer an amazing vista of the entire Grand Harbour. The Church of Our Lady of Porto Salvo that dates back to 1596 has always been the favourite church of seagoers and the Macina building which was contructed to hoist sales and other heavy equipment from the Knights' galleys.
For many years Bormla, the largest of the three cities served as the base for grain milling and as a ship repair yard, and wind mills and old docks some of which have been repurposed are still visible. Bormla is surrounded by the Cottonera lines, a double ring of 5 km long fortifications constructed by Grand Master Nicolas Cotoner and considered to be the best of their kind in Europe. Bir Mula Heritage is a hsitorical museum and site of the oldest inhabited location in the Grand Harbour area.
Across the harbour in Kalkara a new interactive science centre, Esplora will be opening its doors shortly. Housed in Villa Bighi, an ex-British military hospital it will offer a hands-on experience designed to make science appealing and relevant to all.
Public holidays, feasts and holy days are a great time to visit as the residents of the Three Cities celebrate in style. They are renowned for their Easter Day processions when statues of the Risen Christ are carried at a run through the crowded streets as well as the water regattas held in March and September that are part of their maritime history. The Annual Senglea Maritime Festival in June is a celebration of cultural diversity and tradition whilst in October, Birgu by Candlelight is an event not to be missed. All street lighting is extinguished and the entire city is illuminated by candles highlighting its amazing architectural heritage.