Time-lapse Manoel Island from the Fortina Spa Resort
Time-lapse Manoel Island from the Fortina Spa Resort SkylineWebcams
The stunning Manoel Island (Il-Gżira) is a little island joined by a bridge to the mainland at Gżira within the Marsamxett Harbour (Il-Port ta' Marsamxett); originally known as the Bishop's Island (il-Gżira tal-Isqof), it is today mainly used for naval activities, in the past it has played a different role, in 1643 Jean Paul Lascaris, Grandmaster of the Knights of Malta, here built a lazzaretto in order to keep the terrible plague out of Malta.
The island was named after its majestic star-shaped Fort Manoel (18th century), really a classic example of baroque fortress and military engineering, one of the most remarkable works in Europe; built under the grandmastership of the Portuguese Grand Master António Manoel de Vilhena and designed tо house up tо 500 soldiers, it was once enriched by the baroque chapel of St. Anthony of Padua built in 1727 and the bronze Vilhena's statue; perfectly active until 1906 when the British military left the island, during the Second World War Fort Manoel suffered heavy air attacks that didn't spare part of the fort, the chapel and other buildings around, fortunately the statue has survived and was later removed to a little square in Floriana (Il-Furjana) which is also called 'Città Vilhena'; despite the bombardments, Fort Manoel kept its original shape, however in 2006 it underwent restoration works, today partly completed. Fort Manoel continues to proudly overlook the entrance to Marsamxett Harbour where elegant sailing boats and luxurious yachts lie snugly at their berths and enjoy excellent services.
Manoel Island would be undoubtedly better appreciated if admired from the bastions of Valletta (Il-Belt Valletta), really a great emotion!