9 March 2024






2 mins

One of only two surviving batteries on Gozo that was built by the Order of Saint John between 1731 and 1732 as one of a series of coastal fortifications around the coasts of the Maltese Islands is the SAINT ANTHONY’S BATTERY at Qala.

It was built by the Order of Saint John on the eastern point of Gozo, known as Ras il-Qala of which the battery is known and it was intended to guard the channel between Gozo and Comino. The battery was proposed in 1730, and construction commenced in 1731 and was largely complete by December 1732. The final finishing touches were made in 1734. The battery was named after Saint Anthony, as it was built during the reign of António Manoel de Vilhena. It was possibly designed by the military engineer Charles François de Mondion.

The battery was designed with a semi-circular gun platform and two blockhouses at the rear. However, the design was changed and it was built with a semi-hexagonal front. There is a free-standing redan which is a work in a V-shaped salient angle towards an expected attack of which  has thick walls and musketry loopholes to prevent a landward attack. These are shielded by two flanking traverses, and the land front is also surrounded by a shallow ditch. The gateway has the sculpted coat of arms of Grandmaster de Vilhena. The design of the battery is different from other batteries in the Maltese islands, making it unique.

Unfortunately the battery was in a dilapidated state for many years. One of the blockhouses had been demolished, and the gate had collapsed during a storm.

In the 1990s the battery was at the centre of judicial controversy when Magistrate Carol Peralta attempted to give the property to an unspecified third person that claimed to be the owner, potentially to then sell it to him –

On Monday 12th January, 2009 a Department of Information (DOI) Press Release 0024 mentioned the restoration works being done to the battery from Qala Local Council and Din L-Art Helwa (DLH) with a statement from Malta Government Parliamentary Secretary for Information and Dialogue Hon Chris Said of which amongst other issues , he mentioned that the local council benefitted from Eur 71,000 with Malta Environment and Planning Authority (MEPA) , HSBC and DLH sponsorships.

Some of the work was done by Leli Saliba, who was also responsible for the restoration of Isopu Tower. The demolished blockhouse and gateway have both been rebuilt, and now restoration is now almost complete.

Isopu Tower was the last watchtower to be built in Malta, apart from the fort systems of the 18th century. It is one of four surviving towers on Gozo, with the others being Xlendi Tower, Dwejra Tower and Mġarr ix-Xini Tower.


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