Bingemma Queen Victoria Victoria Lines
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The history of the ‘Great Wall’ of Malta

Description

Malta’s answer to the Great Wall of China, the Victoria Lines are a network of fortifications built during second half of the 19th century.

Strategically built on the edge of a natural fault, this continuous defensive wall spans the entire width of the island, some 12km from Fomm ir-Riħ in the west to Madliena in the east.

But unlike Valletta, Mdina or the Grand Harbour few people in Malta have visited the Victoria Lines.

They were built by the British Army and consist of forts, batteries, entrenchments, gun positions and a continuous infantry line that connects them all together.

Begun in the late 1800s by the Royal Engineers, the Victoria Lines were inaugurated by Malta’s Governor Sir Arthur James Lyon Fremantle in 1897 to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee.

The wall was designed to provide one long, continuous path for military patrols.

At the time, Malta was a hugely important territory of the British Empire and the island’s geographical position helped to preserve Britain’s superpower status stretching from the Mediterranean to India, the Far East and Australia.

Despite British fears of an invasion by France or Italy, the Victoria Lines were never put to the ultimate test of an enemy invasion, and were abandoned in 1907.

When a Nazi invasion of Malta looked possible during the Second World War, the lines were rehabilitated with new guard posts built along them as a second line of defence. But once again, the fortifications escaped without a shot being fired in anger.

Today, the Victoria Lines are used by walkers, hikers and ramblers, keen to explore the Maltese countryside along the historical battlement.

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