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L-Isla (Senglea)

Senglea (Maltese: L-Isla), also known by its title Cittą Invicta (or Civitas Invicta), is a fortified city in the east of Malta, mainly in the Grand Harbour area. It is one of the Three Cities in the east of Malta, the other two being Cospicua and Vittoriosa, and has a population of slightly below three thousand people. The city's title Cittą Invicta was given because it managed to resist the Ottoman invasion at the Great Siege of Malta in 1565. The name is Senglea since the grandmaster who built it, Claude de la Sengle, gave this city a part of his name.

The island on which Senglea lies was joined by a land bridge to Cospicua during the time of the Knights of St. John and as a result, it became peninsular in shape. During the time of the Knights of St. John, Senglea was also used as a hunting area, and was known as L'Isola di San Giuliano.

In 1311 St. Julian's church or chapel was founded in Isola. This was the first building to be constructed on what later became Senglea. On 8 May 1552 the foundation stone of Fort St.Michael was laid. Work on the fort, which was designed by Architect Pedro Pardo, was completed in 1553. Construction of walled town Senglea took place during the following decade. The area, which had until the 1550s been known as Isola di San Giuliano or Isola di San Michele, was given city status by Grand Master Claude De La Sengle and was named after him.

Senglea played an important role in the Siege of Malta in 1565 and remained unconquered. The city was given the title Civitas Invicta (meaning "Unconquered City") by Grand Master Jean Parisot de Valette. In 1581 Senglea became a Parish dedicated to the Nativity of Our Lady. The donation of the statue of Our Lady, popularly known as "Il-Bambina", is estimated to have occurred in 1618. Many inhabitants of the city were killed in an outbreak of plague which affected Malta in 1676.

In 1789 Senglea was involved in the blockade against French forces, who were ousted from Malta in 1800. The city narrowly escaped being hit by another plague in 1813; a statue of Our Lady was erected in the city's centre as a sign of gratitude.

The Parish Church was bestowed with the title of Basilica by Pope Benedict XV in 1921. Senglean-born Ignazio Panzavecchia was elected as the first Prime Minister of Malta in the first Self Government Constitution in the same year. Because of his ecclesiastical status he decided not to take up the position. Following Panzavecchia's refusal Joseph Howard was appointed as Prime Minister.

During the Second World War Senglea suffered heavy bombardments which devastated most of the city and killed many of its citizens. On 16 January 1941 a blitz by the Luftwaffe on HMS Illustrious, docked at the nearby Corradino, caused 21 fatalities and destroyed most of the city's buildings including the Basilica. King George VI visited the devastated city on 20 June 1943.

The newly built Basilica was consecrated by Archbishop Sir Michael Gonzi on 24 August 1957. The following day the Basilica resumed its normal functions after almost 16 years and the statue of Marija Bambina was placed inside its new "temple" amongst huge celebrations.

Pope John Paul II visited Senglea in May 1990. To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Luftwaffe bombing of the city, a monument which honours the local victims of both World Wars was unveiled besides the Basilica on 5 September 1991. The first Local Council of Senglea was formed after an election on 3 March 1994. The first mayor of city was Stephen Perici.

The Italian city of Cassino became a twin city with Senglea in 2003. In 2010 Senglea won a European Destinations of Excellence award for aquatic tourism. (Wiki)








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