Key points about this information item Victoria Lines, from Madilena Heights to Fomm Ir-Rih, MaltaInformation Description:
Victoria Lines, from Madilena Heights to Fomm Ir-Rih, Malta
The Victoria Lines are fortified defensive walls and forts built by the British in the nineteenth century to protect the Island from invasion from the North. They were given the name because the wall was completed in Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee year, 1897.
The Lines follow the natural geographical barrier called the Great Fault, which spans the complete width of Malta and almost splits the Island in two. Use of the fault for defensive purposes can be traced back to prehistoric times, but they were not developed intensively until the Knights of St John built troop entrenchments around 1722.
During the British rule, the fault was seen as a strategic defensive line to protect the approaches to the fortified Grand Harbour. Building work began around 1875 and continued until completion in 1897.
Three major forts were built at Madilena, Bingemma and Mosta, with a fortified entrenchment, called Dwejra Lines, built in the central section. The defensive positions were then linked by a continuous infantry wall, which ran along the escarpment above the Great Fault. Fortified bridges were built were the wall had to cross valleys.
A fourth fort was then built at Pembrooke to protect the coastal approaches to Valletta, along with a number of magazines, batteries, and searchlight emplacements. A barrack complex was constructed at Mtarfa.
By the time of their completion, it was apparent that they actually served little military purpose and an exercise in 1900 proved that the fortifications were quite easily bypassed. Despite this, the forts remained of significant defensive value, being armed with heavy 9.2 and six inch guns.
The Victoria Lines now make for an interesting days walk across the Island, passing some sites of historical interest and providing some great views across the Island. Even if you cannot spend a full day walking the escarpment, then a visit to one of the sections is a must while in Malta.
See our separate information page on walking the Victoria Lines
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