Il-Kunsill Lokali tal-Isla
Citta' Invicta

Civitas Invicta
—  Local council  —
Senglea, L-Isla

Coat of arms
Motto: Civitas Invicta (Belt Qatt Mirbuħa)
Coordinates: 35°53′16″N 14°31′1″E / 35.88778°N 14.51694°E / 35.88778; 14.51694Coordinates: 35°53′16″N 14°31′1″E / 35.88778°N 14.51694°E / 35.88778; 14.51694
Country  Malta
Island Malta
Borders Cospicua
 - Mayor Joseph Casha (MLP)
 - Total 0.2 km2 (0.1 sq mi)
 - Total 3,074
 - Density 15,370/km2 (39,808.1/sq mi)
Demonym Senglean or Isolan (m), Sengleana or Isolana (f), Sengleani or Isolani (pl)
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 - Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Postal code
Dialing code 356
Patron saint Maria Bambina; Christ the Redeemer
Day of festa September 8; Third Sunday of June
Website Official website

Senglea (Maltese: L-Isla) is a fortified city in the east of Malta, mainly in the Grand Harbour area. It is one of the Three Cities in the east of Malta, the other two being Cospicua and Vittoriosa. The city of Senglea is also called Civitas Invicta, because it managed to resist the Ottoman invasion at the Great Siege of 1565. The proper name is Senglea since the grandmaster who built it Claude De La Sengle, gave this city a part of his name.



The island on which Senglea lies was joined by a land bridge to Cospicua during the time of the Knights of St. John and as a result, it became peninsular in shape. During the time of the Knights of St. John, Senglea was also used as a hunting area, and was known as L'Isola di San Giuliano.

In 1311 St. Julian's church or chapel was founded in Isola. This was the first building to be constructed on what later became Senglea. On 8 May 1552 the foundation stone of Fort St.Michael was laid. Work on the fort, which was designed by Architect Pedro Pardo, was completed in 1553. Construction of walled town Senglea took place during the following decade. The area, which had until the 1550s been known as Isola di San Giuliano or Isola di San Michele, was given city status by Grand Master Claude De La Sengle and was named after him.[1]

Senglea played an important role in the Siege of Malta in 1565 and remained unconquered. The city was given the title Civitas Invicta (meaning "Unconquered City") by Grand Master Jean Parisot De La Vallette. In 1581 Senglea became a Parish dedicated to the Nativity of Our Lady. The donation of the statue of Our Lady, popularly known as "Il-Bambina", is estimated to have occurred in 1618. Many inhabitants of the city were killed in a outbreak of plague which affected Malta in 1676.[1]

In 1789 Senglea was involved in the blockade against French forces, who were ousted from Malta in 1800. The city narrowly escaped being hit by another plague in 1813; a statue of Our Lady was erected in the city's centre as a sign of gratitude.[1]

The Parish Church was bestowed with the title of Basilica by Pope Benedict XV in 1921. Senglean-born Ignazio Panzavecchia was elected as the first Prime Minister of Malta in the first Self Government Constitution in the same year. Because of his ecclesiastical status he decided not to take up the position. Following Panzavecchia's refusal Joseph Howard was appointed as Prime Minister.[1]

During the Second World War Senglea suffered heavy bombardments which devastated most of the city and killed many of its citizens. On 16 January 1941 a blitz by the Luftwaffe on HMS Illustrious, docked at the nearby Corradino, caused 21 fatalities and destroyed most of the city's buildings including the Basilica.[2] King George VI visited the devastated city on 20 June 1943.[3]

The newly built Basilica was consecrated by Archbishop Sir Michael Gonzi on 24 August 1957. The following day the Basilica resumed its normal functions after almost 16 years and the statue of Marija Bambina was placed inside its new "temple" amongst huge celebrations.

Pope John Paul II visited Senglea in May 1990. To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Luftwaffe bombing of the city, a monument which honours the local victims of both World Wars was unveiled besides the Basilica on 5 September 1991. The first Local Council of Senglea was formed after an election on 3 March 1994. The first mayor of city was Stephen Perici.[1]

The Italian city of Cassino became a twin city with Senglea in 2003.[4] In 2010 Senglea won a European Destinations of Excellence award for aquatic tourism.[1]


Senglea is particularly famous for the statue of Jesus Christ The Redeemer (Ir-Redentur ta` l-Isla), located in the oratory of the basilica which is dedicated to the birth of the Virgin Mary (Marija Bambina).[1]

Senglea also has a statue dedicated to Mary, mother of Jesus, which is often referred to as Il Madonna Tan-Nofs, literally meaning "Our Lady Of The Centre". It was originally erected in the city center during the time of the plague, as gratitude, for being the only town not contaminated.[1]

The local band club is currently named "Socjeta' Filarmonika La Vincitrice".[5] The city's semi-professional football team Senglea Athletic was formed in 1934 to replace the defunct Senglea United side.[6]


With an area of just over half a square mile, it is Malta's smallest locality. It is also its most densely populated. It currently hosts around 3,500 people (1995 census). At the turn of the century, Senglea had more than 8200 people, making it the most densely populated town in Europe. At the time, Senglea, as well as Cospicua, were the centre of Malta's elite and intelligentsia. The Second World War rapidly altered its social structure as many left to take refuge in outlying towns and countryside, never to return. In recent years, rehabilitation of the Cottonera Waterfront as a yacht marina has spurred a lot of interest from foreign expatriates and businessmen.[citation needed]


Senglea is linked to the capital city of Valletta by a network of bus services. Prior to their introduction in the early 20th century, the cities were connected by boat services. In July 2011, following the introduction of a new bus network by Arriva, boats between the two locations were restarted in response to complaints that bus journeys were too slow.[7]

Notable People

  • Francesco Zahra (1710–1773), painter who worked on many churches in Malta.[8]
  • Juan Bautista Azopardo (1772–1848), founder of the Argentinian Navy in 1810.[8]
  • Louis Shickluna (1808–1880), shipbuilder whose shipyards in Canada constructed over 140 ships between 1838 and 1880.[9]
  • Andrea De Bono (1821–1871), explorer of both the River Nile and the Sobat River in Africa.[8]
  • Ignazio Panzavecchia (1855–1925), priest and politician who declined the position of Prime Minister of Malta in 1921 after his party won a majority. The role was instead awarded to Joseph Howard.[1]
  • Anthony Perici (politician) 1920-2010, first full-time Mayor of Twinsburg, Ohio.[10]
  • Mauro Inguanez (1887–1955), priest at the Benedictine Abbey of Cassino, now a twin city of Senglea, and later librarian at the Valletta-based Royal Library.[4]
  • Gorg Mitrovich (politician), who successfully campaigned for improved freedoms and rights for Maltese people in the 1830s. Mitrovich protested that the Council of Government, set up to advise the Governor in 1835, did not reflect the representation of the Maltese since members on the Council were appointed by the British Governor. Following this a British Royal Commission studied the situation 1836, and Malta was granted the Freedom of Press in 1839.[1]
  • Gigi Gauci (1911–2003), politician and founder member of the Malta Labour Party.[11]
  • Charles Clews (1919–2009), actor and comedian.[12]



  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Historical information". Senglea Local Council. Retrieved 21 July 2011. 
  2. ^ Mangion, Fabian (13 February 2011). "Young Senglea priest among victims of Illustrious blitz". The Times of Malta. 
  3. ^ Douglas-Hamilton, James (1981). The air battle for Malta: the diaries of a fighter pilot. Mainstream Publishing. p. 112. ISBN 0906391202. 
  4. ^ a b Abela, Joseph (26 August 2002). "Senglea and Montecassino". The Times of Malta. 
  5. ^ "President and Mrs Abela end official visit in Senglea". DI-VE. 3 October 2010. 
  6. ^ Baldacchino, Carmel (2 April 2009). "The fore-runners of Senglea Athletic". The Times of Malta. 
  7. ^ Carabott, Sarah (14 July 2011). "Back to the future for Arriva?". The Times of Malta. 
  8. ^ a b c "Prominent Sengleans". Senglea Local Council. Retrieved 21 July 2011. 
  9. ^ Abela, Joseph (16 June 2008). "Louis Shickluna - A successful Senglean shipbuilder". The Times of Malta. 
  10. ^ Schunk, Andrew (2010-04-15). "Anthony Perici, city's first full-time mayor, dies". Twinsburg Bulletin. Archived from the original on 2010-04-18. Retrieved 2010-04-18. 
  11. ^ "Gigi passes away as Labour party salutes". Malta Today. 8 June 2003. 
  12. ^ Azzopardi, Marika (7 February 2010). "Charles Clews – Comedian Extraordinaire". The Malta Independent. 

External links

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