Birgu in Malta seen from the Senglea seafront.
Birgu (also called Il-Birgu or Vittoriosa) is a small city in Malta that played a vital role in the Siege of Malta in 1565. It is one of the three best-known cities on this small island nation.
The city was established on the Great Harbour of Malta around Fort St. Angelo, and served as Malta's principal harbour. When the Knights of St. John arrived in 1530, they made Birgu the capital city of Malta, since the former capital, Mdina, was inland and did not suit their naval requirements. Along with new bastions to fortify the city’s defenses, the Knights built the hostels, the so-called auberges, for their eight languages.
After the Siege of Malta in 1565, support for the previously impoverished knights flooded in from across Europe. As a result, Grand Master Jean Parisot de la Valette was able to implement a long held goal of the knights: the building of a new fortified city on Mount Sceberras, the peninsula opposing Birgu from which the Turks had bombarded Birgu. The new capital city, bore his name, Valletta. After the Siege, the Knights also gave Birgu the title Citta Vittoriosa, Italian for "victorious city".