360° panorama courtesy of www.maltain360.com
Inside Marsamxett harbour lies a small leaf-shaped island once known as the Isoletto. Its strategic value emerged with the construction of Valletta on Mount Sciberras, when the threat it posed to the western flanks of the new city began to feature prominently in the engineers' reports.
The earliest scheme to fortify this little island appears to have been proposed in 1569, in a report 'Discorso sopra le fortificatione' signed 'Cavagliere di Malta', written by an anonymous foreign member of the Order who realized that the enemy would attack Valletta from Marsamxett Harbour and bombard St Michael's bastion from the Isoletto. To deny the enemy this possibility, the 'Cavagliere di Malta' proposed the construction of a 'piatta forma' with 'due teste dipendente, affine che nella batteria che vi si facesse sempre vi restasse piazza di buona forma.' This small fort, consisting of a cavalier surrounded by a detached low battery, was to be surrounded by a glacis but this work was never taken in hand even though the threat posed by the 'Isoletto assai eminente' was again demonstrated by Scipione Campi in 1577 and by Giovanni Battista in 1582.
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