Birgu’s picturesque town center holds a statue of St. Lawrence (seen here) and a monument to the 1565 Great Siege of Malta. The numbers are somewhat debated, but it’s estimated that around 9,000 knights, their slaves, and conscripted locals managed to fend off Ottoman forces totaling between 28,000 and 40,000 men. By the end of the epically bloody battle, Malta had lost one third of its inhabitants as well as one third of its Knights, but the win was the first European victory against the Ottomans in over 100 years. Although Birgu lay in ruins, Grand Master Jean de Valette changed its name to Vittoriosa to honor the decimated but valiant city.

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