Towers skirting the Island by E.R. Leopardi

(This article is reproduced from the book Malta’s Heritage – selections from the writings of E.R. Leopardi, 1969, Progress Press Co. Ltd). 

Characteristic of Malta are the many small square towers dotted along the coast. Today they serve little purpose but at the time……….Click here to download article.

 A Brief History of St. Agatha’s Tower by Victor J. Rizzo

This article has been reproduced from the publication, Red Tower – Foresta 2000, Green Walks in Mellieha by Raymond Vella & Victor J. Rizzo available on sale from the Tower.

A Fairy -Tale Castle on the Hill – this is how Din l-Art Helwa describes St. Agatha’s Tower, or as it is most commonly known, the Red Tower of Mellieha.

Red Tower and Foresta 2000 site
Red Tower and Foresta 2000 site

It lies dominantly on the crest of Marfa Ridge overlooking Ghadira Bay, the Nature Reserve and the Comino Channels. The roof offers a magnificent panoramic northern view of the Maltese islands. When the afforestation of the Foresta 2000 project exactly below the tower is completed, and the trees mature. the view will be even more spectacular.

Before Restoration
Before Restoration

It is known as the Red Tower due to the colour it was painted. It is not clear when or why the tower was first painted red. Probably this contrasting colour helped sentinels in Naxxar and Mdina to recognize it easily. Possibly, making the tower so visible also served as a deterent  to the invading marauders and corsairs of the past. This colour has been retained  on restoration.

After their defeat in Rhodes in 1522 by the Ottoman Empire, the Knights of St John roamed the Mediterranean for eight years suffering further defeats in sporadic skirmishes.  In 1530. having been granted Malta  in perpetual fiefdom  through the direct  intervention of the Holy Roman Emperor  Charles V , King of Sicily, it was no surprise that the Turks, seeing the Order resettled, wanted to strike a final blow to the now Knights of Malta. This failed to materialize as Suleiman the Magnificent and his powerful forces were defeated by the Knights and the Maltese during the Great Siege of 1565.

During restoration by Din l-Art Helwa
During restoration by Din l-Art Helwa

Fearing further invasions by the infidels, the Knights strengthened the bastions to fortify the cities of Cottonera and  Valletta’ From 1605 to 1720 under various Grand Masters, a chain of towers was erected as a coastal defence system making the Maltese Islands impregnable until the invasion of Napoleon Bonaparte in 1798. Work on St Agatha’s tower commenced on 5 December 1647 and was completed on 20 November 1648 during the reign of Grand Master Jean Paul Lascaris Castellar. In April 1649 the tower was equipped with 4 cannon and was ready for use. An inscription on a plaque at the entrance to the tower records this event.

A view of the Red Tower
A view of the Red Tower

Restoration by Din t-Art Helwa, Malta’s National Heritage Trust,  with the help of many volunteers, was generously sponsored by Toly Products, Demajo Group of Companies and Playmobil. Work commenced in 1999 and completed in 2001. For a very nominal fee a visit to the tower is advisable.

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An informative website about St. Agatha Tower, popularly known as the Red Tower, located in Mellieha Bay, Malta.

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