During World War II, Malta played a crucial role as a strategic naval base for the British, attracting the attention of Axis powers like Germany and Italy. The island endured relentless bombing, becoming the most heavily bombed country in the war, particularly from 1941 onwards. Hitler specifically targeted Malta due to its significance in British operations in Africa. This led to the ‘Second Great Siege of Malta’ and ultimately resulted in the island being awarded the George Cross for its resilience. The impact of Malta’s involvement in the war was profound, leaving behind numerous remnants of that era. If you’re interested in history or wish to immerse yourself in the wartime experience, there are several sites on the island worth exploring.

Lascaris War Rooms

Lascaris is found on the southern part of Valletta. You can get there through the Grand Harbour by taking a tunnel that goes underneath Lascaris. Alternatively, you can access it from the Bastion of St. James. Today the war rooms have been turned into a museum, simulating the experience of being in these control spaces at the time of the war.

Read more: https://www.lascariswarrooms.com/

National War Museum

Situated within Fort Saint Elmo in the heart of Valletta, the National War Museum was established in 1975. Showcasing a diverse array of military artifacts spanning from the Bronze Age to the present day, the museum’s standout feature is its extensive collection of World War II military equipment, including remnants of aircraft and captured enemy weapons. Prior to its transformation into a museum, the building originally served as a gunpowder magazine, functioning as a storage facility for weapons and gunpowder within the city.

Read more: https://heritagemalta.mt/explore/fort-st-elmo-national-war-museum/

Malta at War Museum Vittoriosa

Apart from the many other amazing things to behold in the three cities, the Malta at War Museum offers a unique experience into an actual barrack block and air-raid shelter from the time.

It can be found in the Couvre Port, one side of Birgu’s beautiful fortifications. What were casemates eventually became barracks with air-raid shelters underneath. Today you can actually visit these shelters that protected the population of Birgu during the War.

Read more: https://www.maltaatwarmuseum.com/

The Red Tower

If you venture to one of the highest points in the country, you’ll be greeted by a 17th-century watchtower known as the Marfa Tower, also referred to as the Red Tower or Saint Agatha’s Tower. This historic structure served various purposes throughout history, including use by the British during the Great War and the Second Siege. Following its military use, the tower was utilized by the Malta Armed Forces before being transformed into a museum. Renowned for its architectural beauty, the tower offers breathtaking views of the surrounding islands and stands out with its striking red colour.

Read more: https://melliehahistory.mt/red-tower/

Air Raid Shelters

The system of underground air raid shelters carved into the rock stands as a symbol of Malta’s strength and determination. Some of these shelters are accessible to the public, serving not only as a unique tourist destination but also as a means to enlighten the younger generation, who have experienced peace, about the historical significance of World War II.

Many inhabitants of the harbour cities were evacuated to rural areas away from the main enemy action to places like Rabat or further away to Mellieha. Today, a popular resort with Malta’s largest sandy beach, Mellieha still bears witness to World War II. Of the 46 air raid shelters in the town, two located near the parish church are open to the public. They feature a small exhibition of tools used to dig the shelters as well as gas masks and ammunition.

Valletta, meanwhile, has a veritable underground city of tunnels and disused wells running beneath the buildings, and many were used as shelters. Part of the network can be accessed via the garden of Casa Rocca Piccola which is owned by a Maltese noble family.

Ancient catacombs dating back to pre-Roman era were also used as air raid shelters, and the Wignacourt Museum in Rabat includes a complex of shelters with two main corridors and about 50 rooms within a network of Punic, Roman and Christian hypogea

Unexploded Bomb Dome in Mosta

The church of Mosta, also known as the Mosta Dome, is a prominent and unmistakable structure on the island with a fascinating tale to share. Inside the Mosta Dome, there is a replica of a WW2 bomb that pierced through the church dome without detonating. During this event, it is believed that many individuals were present inside. Despite the anticipated air raid, the ongoing mass was halted, and people were alerted. While most individuals left, a significant number chose to remain and pray. Subsequently, two bombs descended, but miraculously, neither of them exploded. The improbable outcome led many to perceive it as a miracle, thus perpetuating the remarkable story.

Read more: https://www.visitmalta.com/en/a/info/mostadome/