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Your Guide to Malta and Gozo - Fort Rinella

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Fort Rinella

Opening Hours :

Tuesday-Sunday - From 10.00hrs till 17.00

Adult: €10

Pensioner/Student: €8

Family group: €25 (2 x Adults plus 3 children u/16yrs).

Children u/16yrs: €5

 

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Fort Rinella was named after the land on which it was built. It was completed in 1886 and is surrounded with a dry moat; originally, it was equipped with a rolling bridge that could be retracted during an enemy attack. It could accommodate a garrison of 35 men and comprised an ablution room (“bathroom”), a guard room, a cook house, latrines and nine barrack rooms, separated from the location of the gun by a central courtyard. The passageway that leads to the fort is intentionally bent in order to confuse the invaders and allow more time for the garrison to react to an attack. The gun was painted in such a way as to make it blend with its surroundings, rendering it more difficult to be spotted by the enemy. For the same reason vegetation growth on the Fort was encouraged.

The 100-tonne gun within this fort was one of four acquired by the British forces in order to secure their interests in the Mediterranean, as advised by Lord Sir John Lintorn in 1877. This was in response to the Italian move of bolstering up their fleet with new battleships equipped with similar weapons, poised to annihilate anything that stood in their way. Two of these guns were stationed in Gibralter, whilst the remaining two were located in Malta, strategically placed on opposite sides of the Grand Harbour. The gun is Fort Rinella's Raison d'être. The other gun at Fort Cambridge was used as scrap metal in 1958. The Italian and the British guns were all acquired from Sir William George Armstrong. The gun used to be fired a mere four times in a year, not only to increase its life expectancy but also due to the exorbitant cost of firing, each shot being equivalent to a day's salary of 2400 soldiers. A hydraulic system was used to load the gun with the one tonne shells from the magazine beneath. The gun was last fired officially on 5th May 1905.

Whilst during the Second World War, Rinella was used as a storage facility, it also doubled as an air raid shelter. The Fort was hit several times during areal attacks and the scars may still be visible today.

Rinella was entrusted to Fonzazjoni Wirt Artna in 1991 and thus began its renaissance as it was painstakingly restored to its former glory. Restoration of the Fort is still a work in progress and during your visit, you will be presented with the opportunity to contribute financially to this project: you may fire a rifle for the price of €5.00, or a cannon for €10. The monster gun is fired every 5th May and the highest bidder in an auction wins the privilege to activate it.

Your visit to the Fort also comprises a guided tour at 1:00pm that includes a well-delivered animated lecture about the evolution of rifles and bayonets, a convincing re-enactment of the training of new recruits to the British garrison and a twenty minute documentary about the monster gun and Rinella.