There is a great deal to learn from this 271 page book, published in 2003 and dealing exclusively with Birgu. It is extensively illustrated to a significant degree by photographs taken by its author. The book is packed full of information - some of it not found elsewhere, and ranging from locations of air raid shelters, religious statues and niches to popular stories about ghosts and their sightings in Birgu. The book also contains a chapter on prominent personalities born in Birgu, including (on pages 61-62) an account of an ancestral relative of the author of this web page.
The late author of this book had clearly made it his mission to know Birgu inside out and had written about Birgu elsewhere - such as in specialised publications on religious topics entitled:
Mr Gauci wrote in an informal manner, often translated from the vernacular, and had also made a substantial popular contribution by way of the historical section of Birgu Local Council's website..
Launched on the occasion of 'Jum il-Birgu' (7th September 2014) - not yet reviewed.
Like the other book with the same title, also briefly reviewed on this page, this book contends with all 'Three Cities' and not just with Vittoriosa. However Vittoriosa (Birgu) rightly enjoys the largest of the three sections. It is a 'hardback' in its own box. The book is well endowed with excellent photographs. Indeed it is really a collection of images supported by text, rather than the other way round. However the text should not be dismissed - as it is well worth reading with 'personal touches' that are generally missing in the other books.
The photographs are outstanding and cover a variety of aspects of the Three Cities: - architecture, people, industry, socio-cultural traditions and so on.
It mainly provides an outline of the historical buildings in Vittoriosa, supplemented by a street plan, and set within a brief historical context. Its third edition was published in 2004.
As a 'starter' it is an easy read and a concise
introduction to the city. Mr Zahra is a widely acknowledged authority on the
subject of Birgu and its history, and had co-founded the ‘Vittoriosa Historical and Cultural Society'.
Moreover even on a very hot sunny day, the narrow windy streets provide plenty of shade.
In turn the four walks deal with:
This booklet is packed with corresponding historical detail, and is to be
recommended as a way of getting to know and 'feel' Birgu.
The CD uses interactive features such as maps, 'virtual tours' of important buildings or fortifications such as Fort St Angelo and the Church of St Lawrence. It even has a few simple games which might appeal to children. The CD has a few minor errors which should be remedied in any future editions. For example in the interactive map the marker for the armoury is mistakenly placed on St James' cavalier while that of the Post of Castille has been placed too far along the fortifications such that it is placed on the post of Germany.
MP3 Vittoriosa Audio Guide:
(launched: 21st July 2007)
You can listen to a sample of this MP3 collection produced by Cultel in conjunction with Birgu Local Council. It is accompanied by a paper copy (in pdf format if downloaded) of a walking route map and photographs of the main attractions highlighted along the way.
It is intended to act as a guide to tourists visiting Birgu, along a recommended route, and is available to rent or purchase. Allowance of about one hour and a half has to be made before starting. It would also be well worth one's while to plan the route and chosen staring point, and to familiarise oneself with the MP3 controls before setting off.
A news item appears on Birgu Local Council's website. The MP3 Vittoriosa Audio Guide can be purchased and downloaded online from or through Birgu Local Council's website. The downloaded zipped file is about 95MB in size, so make sure that your connection has enough bandwidth and is reliable before you purchase it.
MP3 Vittoriosa Audio Tour:
(launched: September 2011)
Passiġġata l-Birgu is quite different from the usual tourist audio guides (such as the one above). It does not describe the 'sights' of Birgu (as the previous audio guide does). Instead it consists of a walk around Birgu stopping at various junctures for short accounts in the vernacular (Malti) given by people who lived(d) there or who worked there.
It provides a very interesting oral sociological narrative mainly of 'the way things were'.
At first one might be put off by the length of it (an hour and eight minutes), and by the sound of footsteps as well as 'huffing and puffing' - but it is so enthralling that it is difficult to stop once one has started.
Accounts are given by people as varied as former schoolchildren, a barber, the baker, and even the parish church sacristan. The sounds of Birgu ranging from bands to the general hubbub are also in evidence.
To visit the home page and thence download the media click here
If the listener knows Birgu, it is not essential to walk through the tour. It can be enjoyed simply by listening carefully and orientating oneself using the hand drawn pdf maps.
Books about specific aspects of Birgu:
Accounts about Birgu feature elsewhere, especially as sections or chapters in books. However the overview on this web page has been limited to the salient works that deal exclusively with Birgu or where it is the principal account in an account of The Three Cities.
Thus, amongst other texts, there are also booklets about specific buildings or historical features in Birgu, such as the Birgu Galley Arsenal by Joseph Muscat, published by PIN (Publikazzjonijiet Indipendenza). This booklet is mainly of historical interest, there being no significant remains of the original galley arsenal that a visitor could easily discern.
However a visit to the Maritime museum (practically on the site of the old arsenal) is highly recommended so as to learn about the galley arsenal.
Birgu's museums described on the home page of this website are often supported or complemented by various booklets.
One such booklet is entitled "The Malta Maritime Museum" by Emmanuel Magro Conti. It is one of the "Insight Heritage Guides" published by Heritage Books Malta, and details the various collections in that museum in its text, supplemented by illustrations.
This booklet is well worth buying not merely as a 'guide' to go round the museum, but as an important historical resource in its own right. It provides an insight into Malta's maritime history dating back to ancient times.
Magro Conti's book features wide ranging information and illustrations particularly in respect of the 16th - 18th centuries when the 'Knights of Malta' were an important naval power in the central Mediterranean and in the 19th - 20th centuries when Malta was British colony. He is an authority on these subjects and is well placed to describe and discuss them because of his professional and managerial role at the museum.
Various books have been written by Kenneth Gambin about and around the Inquisitor's Palace in Vittoriosa and the Holy Roman Inquisition in Malta. Unsurprisingly there is some overlap in the material that they contain. These include:
The first two can serve as guides to the museum at the Inquisitor's Palace. The third is more generic but draws significantly upon material from the Inquisitor's Palace in Birgu.
- The Ageing Population of Birgu
by Joe P Smith
(Fine Art Photography)
This is essentially a collection of photo-portraits of older people in their surroundings in Birgu
"EXPLORING MALTA. An Activity Book. BIRGU. Citta Vittoriosa." has yet to be reviewed by this website.
(fictitious but set
"The Disorderly Knights" by Dorothy Dunnett. This book is the third in Dunnett's series called the Lymond Chronicles. It is set in 1551 when the knights were facing a Turkish onslaught (15 years before the 'Great Siege'):
Video (of DVD) on Youtube