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Senglea – Civitas Invicta

Today it is hard to imagine Senglea as an unbuilt uncultivated land, yet in the times of the knights it was used as a hunting area and was known as L’Isola di San Guliano. Senglea is built on a peninsula, but before becoming a walled city, Grand Master Fra Phillipo Villers d l’Isle Adam planed quantities of olive trees to make the place a more attractive hunting ground.

On the 8th of May 1552, the foundation stone of Fort St. Michael was laid. Work on the fort designed by Pedro Pardo was completed in 1553. The building of the walled city of Senglea took place during the following decade. Grand Master Claude De La Sengle renamed l-isola di San Guliano as Senglea. The city was built on a grid plan, an arrangement which was later to be adopted in the building of the capital city Valletta.

Senglea played a very important role in the Siege of Malta. The title of the city Civitas Invicta (City never Conquered) was given by Grand Master Jean Parisot De La Valette. The parish of Senglea was dedicated to the Nativity of Our Lady in 1581.
During the French Occupation a number of Sengleans were accused oftreason and shot.
The Maltese (from Corradino Hights) bombarded French positions  in Senglea. The French occupation was short lived, and the French were kicked out within three months.

The British occupation saw many changes to Senglea, particularly to Fort St Michael, where a clock tower was erected on the site of the fort, to make matters worse a school was also built on site.

During the Second World War Senglea was reduced to a mass of rubble, relentless air bombardments on the grand Harbour, destroyed most of Senglea and the Basilica dedicated to Our Lady of Victories as destroyed on the 16th January 1941, during an air attach on HMS Illustrious which was berthed in French creek. In 1943 King George VI visited Senglea to witness first hand the devastation caused. On the 8th of September 1942, during the procession with the statue of  “Il-Bambina” mews was delivered that Italy had surrendered to the allies.

Senglea is particularly famous for the statue of Jesus Christ the Redeemer (Ir-Redentur ta’ l-Isla) which can be found in the oratory of the Basilica dedicated to the birth of the Virgin Mary (Maria Bambina). The city of Senglea is Malta’s smallest locality covering just over half a mile, yet with around 8500 inhabitants Senglea becomes Europe’s most densely populated town.