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Birgu (also called Il-Birgu or Vittoriosa) is a small city in Malta that played a vital role in the Siege of Malta in 1565. It is one of the three best-known cities on this small island nation. Its current population is of 2,691 (Nov 2005).

The city was established on the Great Harbour of Malta around Fort St. Angelo, and served as Malta's principal harbour. When the Knights of St. John arrived in 1530, they made Birgu the capital city of Malta, since the former capital, Mdina, was inland and did not suit their naval requirements.

After the Siege of Malta in 1565, support for the previously impoverished knights flooded in from across Europe. As a result, Grand Master Jean Parisot de la Valette was able to implement a long held goal of the knights: the building of a new fortified city on Mount Sceberras, the peninsula opposing Birgu from which the Turks had bombarded Birgu. The new capital city, bore his name, Valletta. After the Siege, the Knights also gave Birgu the title Città Vittoriosa, Italian for "victorious city".

The parish church is dedicated to St. Lawrence. The saint's day is celebrated on August 10. This church was the conventual church of the Order when the Knights settled at Birgu. The Order settled in Birgu until 1575 when the Knights moved to Valletta. As a matter of fact in Birgu one can still find the old Auberges which were all located (except for the Italian Langue) in the Collachio. The Collachio was a confined place where only the Knights were allowed to enter. All these aspects and more can only be appreciated if one visits this unique city which is surrounded by fortified walls and high towers known as St. John and St. James Cavalier, and which are similar to the same named high towers at Valletta. During the visit one should not miss taking a look at the Inquisitor's Palace and the Guva in St.Angelo where Caravaggio was arrested.

Also in Birgu is the Church dedicated to Our Lady of the Annunciation run by the Dominican Order. This church is also known as St. Dominic's Church. The feast of Saint Dominic is held every last Sunday of August. It is organised by the Domenican Frairs, the St. Dominic External Feast Commitee and the Prince of Wales' Own Band Club of Birgu.

After the taking of Malta by Napoleon in 1798, and his eviction by the Maltese with the help of the British, the British Navy made Birgu its base in the Mediterranean, and remained there until 1979.
(Source: Malta guide)

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Additional Photos by George Rumpler (Budapestman) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 8900 W: 3 N: 20435] (82620)
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