The Three Cities (Malta)

The Three Cities (also called Cottonera) are three adjacent towns in Malta (in brackets their old names): Cospicua (Bormla), Vittoriosa (Birgu), and Senglea (Isla).

They are probably older than Mdina and offer an intriguing insight into Maltese history. Altogether, the Three Cities are still a size of a village, and the size allows for a very nice walk.


Regular ferries from Valletta make it a pleasure to visit. To reach the Three Cities ferry stop, take the Upper Barrakka Lift and cross the road.
Velletta ferries

You will arrive at a nice harbor which has become a luxury parking for yachts. Spend some time googling the yachts’ names to get shocked by the price of their purchase and rent.

Vittoriosa (Birgu)

We recommend starting your walk with a short tour around Vittoriosa, also advised in Lonely Planet.
Vittoriosa Birgu map

Start at Misrah ir-Rebha (1) with the statue of St. Laurence, patron saint of Vittoriosa.
statue of St. Laurence

On the way, you will see Sacra Infermeria (2), the first hospital built by knights on their arrival in Malta and the Bighi Sally Port (3), where the wounded were brought by boat to the infirmary.
Continue to Vittoriosa narrow streets, collectively known as Il Collachio (4).
Il Collachio



One of the oldest buildings in its streets is Norman House(5) build in the 13th century. Prominent is the double-light window with Gothic arcading and the Norman style friezing along the facade.
Norman House

You may also get inside, get a free pastry and leave a donation for your visit if you wish so.

Auberge d’Angleterre (6), the auberge of the English Knights, now serves as a local Vittoriosa Health Centre.
Auberge d’AngleterreOratory of St. Joseph (7) and the Church of Saint Lawrence. Or, continue further, till the tip of Vittoriosa peninsula to see the fortress.
Oratory of St. Joseph

Cospicua (Bormla)

Cospicua has many less attractions than Senglea and Vittoriosa. The main one is probably the Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception in Bormla. It is known for having survived in the Second World War bombing, when the rest of the town was destroyed. Symbolically, the memorial for the victims of the Second World War is located between the stairs.
Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conceptio

Here begins the dock, dug by the British. It looks like a neat channel. On one side of the canal are lawns and trimmed trees, on the other, former port facilities.

Senglea (Isla)

With the population of 3500 people, Senglea is still even more difficult to get lost in than Vittoriosa, as the streets form a grid pattern. It is here that you can feel especially well that the Three Cities are not too popular among the tourists: it is so different from Valletta by the amount of real local rather than tourist life. On Isla peninsula the fort of St. Michael was built by the knight.
fort of St. Michael

Just like Cospicua, Senglea was pretty much destroyed during the Second World War, so few of actual attractions remained. One of them is the entrance gate into the former fort. From the gates the main street of Isla begins, which stretches across the whole city and eventually ends with St. Philip’s Church. You can also observe here Church of Our Lady of Victory. Senglea also provides excellent views for simply walking and looking around.



Make sure you see the waterfront, it is worth it!

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