Surrounding the Grand Harbour in the South of Malta, directly opposite Valletta, the three walled towns known as the ‘Three Cities,’ Vittoriosa, Cospicua and Senglea,  offer a fascinating glimpse into Malta’s maritime history. The original home of the Knights of St John, the ‘Three Cities’ have jutted out into the Grand Harbour since Phoenician times. Predominantly maritime cities, they have been doorways to commerce, migration, encounters and cultural exchange in Malta’s long history. With the development of the shipbuilding and shipping industries at nearby Marsa, dockyard workers set up homes in the ‘Three Cities,’ but during World War 11 they suffered severe bombing raids with Cospicua and Senglea being extensively damaged. Today the ‘cities’ atmosphere is captivating, with the people living within the city walls immensely proud of their heritage. Each town comes with its own particular magnetism and character that distinguishes them from other localities on the island and it could be said that with their beautiful churches, grandiose palaces and imposing bastions, the ‘Three Cities’ history is arguably as rich as that of Malta’s capital, Valletta.


This historical area has been left rather unexplored by tourists and it has largely retained its past architectural glory (even though very heavily hit during World War II). Having claimed its rightful place in Malta’s expansive history, the region has been undergoing a revival in popularity in recent years. ‘The Three Cities’ are now brimming with exclusive restaurants, wine bars, museums and a yacht marina, making them very attractive places to wander and explore.


The ‘Three Cities’ are enclosed by the Cottonera Lines, along with several other fortifications. The term Cottonera is synonymous with the ‘Three Cities,’ although it is sometimes taken to also include the nearby town of Kalkara. Together, the ‘Three Cities’ have a total population of 11,000 people.


From ‘IN LOVE WITH MALTA’ (The Hidden Treasures)

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