|During the 18th Century the idea of fortifying the Island was taken seriously by Grand Master Manoel De Vilhena. Fort Manoel was built in 1726 on the plans of De Tigne and François De Mondion who were French Military Engineers. Amongst the fortifications of the inner harbour area for Manoel stands up for its compactness and for being constructed in a single phase. It was described as the classical fort having a rectangular shape stiffened with four bastions in each corner. |
The Cavaliers stand high on the land front in order to get a further advantage. The gun powder magazines (polverista) are on the bastions facing Valletta. It also had appropriate soldier’s lodging (barracks). The fort has its parade around in the middle of the fort surrounded by the barracks. An interesting feature of the Fort is a large number of countermines built in the ditch of the Fort. Today most of these countermines are still open however they are vandalised and dangerous
Two unimportant non-military structures were the statue of Grand Master De Vilhena (during whose grandmastership the Fort was built). This statue was moved several times from its location. Now this statue is found in Floriana (Borgo Vilhena). The other non-military structure is St. Anthony’s Chapel. It was built on the design of Romano Carappechia. Of notable mention was that the French Military Engineer Charles Francois de Mondion was buried in the crypt. The up keeping of the Fort was entrusted to the Fondazione Manoel which obtained fund from various land bequeathed by De Vilhena himself. When the British took over the Fort, most of Manoel Island was closed to civilians for Strategic Purpose. Unfortunately in the 2nd World War the chapel was hit by bombs. Today its remains are there as a proof of its former glory.