When the Knights Hospitallers landed in Malta in 1530, they found that, on the promontory where Valletta would eventually be built, the local militia had already constructed a small 14th-century watchtower and church dedicated to St. Elmo, the patron saint of seafarers. Although the Knights hastily erected a beefier fort, it still fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1565 during the Great Siege. Afterwards, Grand Master Jean de Valette recognized the strategic importance of the peninsula and decided to relocate his capital city to this promontory. Behind us you can just barely see the tip of Fort St. Elmo, which guarded the approach to both the Grand and Marsamxett Harbors.

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