Malta at War Museum and Wartime Shelters, Birgu, Malta

Category: Places to Visit in Malta and Gozo, Military History of Malta and Gozo
Maze of tunnels used as air raid shelters
Life under siege in 1940's Malta
Couvre Porte Gate, Vittoriosa, Malta
Opening hours:
Tue - Sun from 10.00 till 17.00hrs.

Key points about this information item Malta at War Museum and Wartime Shelters, Birgu, Malta



Malta at War Museum and Wartime Shelters


The Malta at War museum takes a slightly different approach and focuses on the daily life of the people living in Malta during the World War Two siege during 1941 to 1942.  The island endured one of the most tierce and sustained bombardments in modern history and earned the unenviable title of most bombed location in the world.


Malta’s war began on 10th June 1940 when Italy declared war on Britain and officially ended on 8th September 1943 when Italy surrendered and the museum is dedicated to this period.  The Islands endured 3340 air raids, which killed 1468 Maltese locals and destroyed 35,000 homes.

Between 1941 and 1942, 18,000 tonnes of munitions were dropped on the island, while at the same time resupply of the island became virtually impossible and the islanders were slowly starving.  The museum hopes to depict the terrible plight the island found itself in.


The Malta at War Museum is housed in an 18th century military barracks, built into the walls of Vittoriosa (Birgu).  Over the years, the building served various purposes including being the local police station, a civil defence centre and an air raid shelter.  The maze of tunnels, forty feet below the surface, were built by hand using hammers and chisels, pick-axes and shovels.  The complex incorporates a number of rooms, including a chapel and a birth room for expectant mothers, which was the only room with an electricity supply.  The tunnels have been restored by volunteers from Fondazzjoni Wirt Artna,the Malta Heritage Trust and they are now safe to explore with your museum guide.


The museum contains many items of interest from the time to help show how people lived and survived during those times.  There is also a video show, featuring the first film made about the siege, Malta G.C.  Commissioned as a propaganda film for the British, it gives a vivid insight into the hardships.  It was narrated by Sir Laurence Olivier and the music was composed by Sir Arnold Bax, who was the Kings Musician of the time.  DVD’s of the film are exclusively available to buy at the museum.


Opening Hours

Tuesday – Sunday: 10:00 to 17:00

Closed on Good Friday, Easter Sunday, Christmas Day and New Year's Day



Couvre Porte, Birgu






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