Malta, 1972 AD., Republic, 2 Pounds, KM 14.
Malta, Republic, mint of the Sovreign Military Order of St John in Rome, 1972 AD.,
2 Pounds (38 mm / 19,95 g), 0.9870 silver, mintage 53.000 , reeded edge,
Obv.: MALTA , legend below crowned Maltese arms with supporters, motto "VIRTVTE ET CONSTANTIA" on ribbon.
Rev.: 1972 / ₤M 2 , Fort San Angelo.
KM 14 .
Fort St Angelo is a large fortification in Birgu, Malta, right at the centre of Grand Harbour.
The date of its original construction is unknown. However, there are claims of prehistoric or classical buildings near the site, due to some large ashlar blocks and an Egyptian pink granite column at the top part of the fort. There is also the mentioning in Roman texts of a temple dedicated to Juno/Astarte, probably in the vicinity of the fort. There is also the popular attribute to its foundation to the Arabs, c. 870 AD, but nothing is concrete although al Himyari mentions that the Arabs dismantled a 'hisn' (fortress), but there is no actual reference if this 'fortress' was in Vittoriosa. Its probable start as a fortification is the high/late medieval period. In fact, in 1220 Hauhenstaufen Emperor Frederick II started to appoint his own Castellani for Malta who needed a place to live and secure the interests of the crown. The remains of a tower that may date back to the 12th century can be traced a mong the more recent works. The first mention of 'Castrum Maris' (Castle by the sea) is to be found in documents from the 1240s when Paulinus of Malta was the lord of the island and later when Giliberto Abate made a census of the islands. Another reference to the castle is that from the short Angevin rule (1266–83) where documents list it again as Castrum Maris and list a garrison of 150 men together with several weapons. It seems also that by 1274, the castle already had two chapels which are still there today. From the same year exists also a detailed inventory of weapons and supplies in the castle. From 1283 the Maltese Islands were under Aragonese rule (although the castle withstood for some time in Anjuvine rule while the rest of Malta was already in Aragonese hands) and the fortification was mainly used by Castellani (like de Nava family) who were there to safeguard the interests of the Aragonese Crown. In fact the Castellan did not have any jurisdiction outside the ditch of the fort.
When the Knights of Malta arrived in Malta in 1530, they chose to settle in Birgu, and Fort St Angelo became the seat of the Grand Master, which included the refurbishing of the Castellan's House and St. Anne's Chapel. The Knights made this their primary fortification and substantially reinforced and remodelled it, including the cutting of the dry ditch to make it a moat and the D'Homedes Bastion built by 1536. By 1547 a large cavalier designed by Ferramolino was built behind the D'Homedes bastion and also the construction of the De Guirial battery right at the tip of the fort by sea level to protect the entrance to Dockyard Creek. These works transformed the fort into a gunpowder fortification. Fort St Angelo withstood the Turks during the Siege of Malta, where it also succeeded in tearing apart a sea attack by the Turks on Senglea on the 15th of August 1565, though in the aftermath of that siege the Knights built the fortified city of Valletta on Mount Sciberras across the other side of Grand Harbour, and the administrative centre for the knights moved there. In fact, in was not until the 1690s that the fort again underwent major repairs. Today's layout of the fort is attributed to these works which were designed by Carlos de Grunenburgh, who even paid for the construction of four gun batteries on the side of the fort facing the entrance to Grand Harbour. As a result, one can still see his coat of arms above the main gate of the fort. By the arrival of the French in 1798, therefore, the fort became a very powerful fortification including some 80 guns, 48 of which pointing towards the entrance of the port. During the short 2 year period of French occupation, the Fort served as Headquarters of the French Army.
With the coming of the British to Malta the fort retained its importance as a military installation, first in use by the Army. In fact, in 1800 2 battalions of the 35th Regiment were resided in the fort. However, in the beginning of the 20th century, the fort was taken over by the Navy and it was listed as a ship, originally in 1912 as HMS Egremont, when it became a base for the Royal Navy in the Mediterranean, but in 1933 renamed as HMS St Angelo. The British did not make many modifications to the fort although they built a casemated battery for 3, 9-inch RML guns in the 19th century and also a cinema and a water distillation plant in the early 20th century. During World War 2, the fort again stood for siege with an armamemnt of 3 Bofors guns (manned by the Royal Marines and later by the Royal Malta Artillery). In total, the fort suffered 69 direct hits between 1940 and 1943. When the Royal Navy left Malta in 1979 the Fort was handed to the Maltese government and since then parts of the Fort have fallen into a state of disrepair, mostly after a project to transform it into a hotel during the 1980s.
Today some parts of the fort are leased to the Order of the Knights of St John. Indeed, given the Order's recognised status as a sovereign entity, those leased parts of the fort effectively form an independent state over which Malta has no jurisdiction (similar to the Vatican City's position within Italy). Other parts are leased to a private consortium, while a major part of the fort has been trusted to Heritage Malta, which scheduled a project to start in 2011 in order to restore the fort back to its former glory and giving any visitor a unique experience of this fort and Grand Harbour.