About Fort Rinella
Fort Rinella was an imposing stronghold built in Malta in 1878 by the British. Intended to defend the harbour and British trade routes in the Mediterranean, particularly from the then perceived threat of the Italian navy, Fort Rinella was at the cutting edge of military design, boasting a 100-ton gun able to be fired every six seconds.
Today Fort Rinella is managed by the Malta Heritage Trust which offers tours and films at the site. The main tour is at 2:30pm although there are different hourly tours.
History of Fort Rinella
Fort Rinella is a Victorian fort which houses the world’s largest cannon. The fort was one of four coastal batteries built by the British in Malta and Gibraltar between 1878 and 1886. It is situated above the shore east of the mouth of Malta’s Grand Harbour, between Fort Ricasoli and Fort St. Rocco.
The fort was built in the shape of an irregularly-shaped pentagon, and was surrounded by a deep ditch, which was enfiladed by three caponiers and a counter-scarp gallery. The fort is built on two levels, with an underground magazine-loading chamber, and accommodation and machinery storage on the ground level.
It was built to contain a single Armstrong 100-ton gun, which was necessitated by Britain’s fear of losing their naval superiority in the Mediterranean to Italy. The gun was so large that it took 100 men three months of manual movement to get it into place and ready for use.
In 1906, after just 20 years of service, the gun was declared obsolete, and the fort was stripped of its machinery and abandoned. Until the mid-1930s, the fort served as a Position Finding Station for nearby Fort Ricasoli. It was then under the stewardship of the Admiralty, who then surrendered the property to the Government of Malta in 1965.
Fort Rinella Today
The fort has been undergoing restoration by volunteers from the Malta Heritage Foundation since 1991. Today, it is open to visitors, who can enjoy a tour by a very knowledgeable volunteer around the entire fort. There is also a small museum inside the fort with information about its role as a defensive structure and the army. The highlight of a visit to Fort Rinella, however, is seeing the Armstrong 100-Ton-Gun.
For those who want to enjoy dinner with a view of the fort and Grand Harbour, the beach has a range of restaurants to enjoy.
Getting to Fort Rinella
The Fort is a 30 minute drive from the centre of Malta, via the Triq-L-Imdina road. There is also a regular connecting bus service from the centre of the city, which takes around an hour and 45 minutes.