• 001 - the logo.jpg
  • 002 - Hiroshima sunset.jpg
  • 003 - Auschwitz-Birkenau ramp.jpg
  • 004 - Chernobyl contamination.jpg
  • 005 - Darvaza flaming gas crater.jpg
  • 006 - Berlin Wall madness.jpg
  • 007 - Bulgaria - monument at the bottom of Buzludzhy park hill.jpg
  • 008 - Ijen crater.jpg
  • 009 - Aralsk, Kazakhstan.jpg
  • 010 - Paris catacombs.jpg
  • 011 - Krakatoa.jpg
  • 012 - Ho Chi Minh mausoleum, Hanoi.jpg
  • 013 - Uyuni.jpg
  • 014 - DMZ Vietnam.jpg
  • 015 - Colditz Kopie.jpg
  • 016 - Glasgow Necropolis.jpg
  • 017 - Ani.jpg
  • 018 - Kamikaze.jpg
  • 019 - Arlington.jpg
  • 020 - Karosta prison.jpg
  • 021 - Kazakhstan.jpg
  • 022 - Chacabuco ghost town.jpg
  • 023 - Eagle's Nest, Obersalzberg, Berchtesgaden.jpg
  • 024 - Kursk.jpg
  • 025 - Bran castle, Carpathia, Romania.jpg
  • 026 - Bestattungsmuseum Wien.jpg
  • 027 - Pripyat near Chernobyl.jpg
  • 028 - Sedlec ossuary, Czech Republic.jpg
  • 029 - Pyramida Lenin.jpg
  • 030 - Falklands.jpg
  • 031 - Majdanek.jpg
  • 032 - Soufriere volcano, Montserrat.jpg
  • 033 - moai on Easter Island.jpg
  • 034 - Sigoarjo.jpg
  • 035 - Hötensleben.jpg
  • 036 - Natzweiler.jpg
  • 037 - Polygon, Semipalatinsk test site, Kazakhstan.jpg
  • 038 - Srebrenica.jpg
  • 039 - Liepaja, Latvia.jpg
  • 040 - Vemork hydroelectric power plant building, Norway.jpg
  • 041 - Enola Gay.jpg
  • 042 - Pentagon 9-11 memorial.jpg
  • 043 - Robben Island prison, South Africa.jpg
  • 044 - Tollund man.jpg
  • 045 - Marienthal tunnel.jpg
  • 046 - Aso, Japan.jpg
  • 047 - Labrador battery Singapore.jpg
  • 048 - Artyom island, Absheron, Azerbaijan.jpg
  • 049 - Treblinka.jpg
  • 050 - Titan II silo.jpg
  • 051 - dosemetering doll, Chernobyl.jpg
  • 052 - Holocaust memorial, Berlin.jpg
  • 053 - Komodo dragon.jpg
  • 054 - cemeterio general, Santiago de Chile.jpg
  • 055 - Tuol Sleng, Phnom Phen, Cambodia.jpg
  • 056 - West Virginia penitentiary.jpg
  • 057 - ovens, Dachau.jpg
  • 058 - Derry, Northern Ireland.jpg
  • 059 - Bulgaria - Buzludzha - workers of all countries unite.jpg
  • 060 - Sachsenhausen.jpg
  • 061 - Tiraspol dom sovietov.jpg
  • 062 - modern-day Pompeii - Plymouth, Montserrat.jpg
  • 063 - Pico de Fogo.jpg
  • 064 - Trinity Day.jpg
  • 065 - Zwentendorf control room.jpg
  • 066 - Wolfschanze.jpg
  • 067 - Hiroshima by night.jpg
  • 068 - mass games, North Korea.jpg
  • 069 - Harrisburg.jpg
  • 070 - Nuremberg.jpg
  • 071 - Mostar.jpg
  • 072 - Tu-22, Riga aviation museum.jpg
  • 073 - Gallipoli, Lone Pine.jpg
  • 074 - Auschwitz-Birkenau - fence.jpg
  • 075 - Darvaza flaming gas crater.jpg
  • 076 - Atatürk Mausoleum, Ankara.jpg
  • 077 - Banda Aceh boats.jpg
  • 078 - AMARG.jpg
  • 079 - Chacabuco ruins.jpg
  • 080 - Bucharest.jpg
  • 081 - Bernauer Straße.jpg
  • 082 - Death Railway, Thailand.jpg
  • 083 - Mandor killing fields.jpg
  • 084 - Kozloduy.jpg
  • 085 - Jerusalem.jpg
  • 086 - Latin Bridge, Sarajevo.jpg
  • 087 - Panmunjom, DMZ, Korea.jpg
  • 088 - Ijen blue flames.jpg
  • 089 - Derry reconsilliation monument.jpg
  • 090 - Ebensee.jpg
  • 091 - Mödlareuth barbed wire.jpg
  • 092 - skull heaps in Sedlec ossuary, Czech Republic.jpg
  • 093 - Nikel.jpg
  • 094 - Vught.jpg
  • 095 - Tital launch control centre.jpg
  • 096 - Dallas Dealy Plaza and Sixth Floor Museum.jpg
  • 097 - Auschwitz I.jpg
  • 098 - Stalin and Lenion, Tirana, Albania.jpg
  • 099 - Podgorica, Montenegro, small arms and light weapons sculpture.jpg
  • 100 - Peenemünde.jpg
  • 101 - Tarrafal.jpg
  • 102 - Kilmainham prison, Dublin.jpg
  • 103 - North Korea.jpg
  • 104 - Mittelbau-Dora.jpg
  • 105 - Chacabuca big sky.jpg
  • 106 - Stutthof, Poland.jpg
  • 107 - Merapi destruction.jpg
  • 108 - Chueung Ek killing fields, Cambodia.jpg
  • 109 - Marienborn former GDR border.jpg
  • 110 - Mig and star, Kazakhstan.jpg
  • 111 - Japanese cave East Timor.jpg
  • 112 - Hellfire Pass, Thailand.jpg
  • 113 - Kiev.jpg
  • 114 - Grutas Park, Lithuania.jpg
  • 115 - Zwentendorf reactor core.jpg
  • 116 - two occupations, Tallinn.jpg
  • 117 - Trunyan burial site.jpg
  • 118 - Ushuaia prison.jpg
  • 119 - Buchenwald.jpg
  • 120 - Marienthal with ghost.jpg
  • 121 - Murmansk harbour - with an aircraft carrier.jpg
  • 122 - Berlin Olympiastadion.JPG
  • 123 - Bastille Day, Paris.jpg
  • 124 - Spassk.jpg
  • 125 - Theresienstadt.jpg
  • 126 - B-52s.jpg
  • 127 - Bledug Kuwu.jpg
  • 128 - Friedhof der Namenlosen, Vienna.jpg
  • 129 - Auschwitz-Birkenau barracks.jpg
  • 130 - mummies, Bolivia.jpg
  • 131 - Barringer meteor crater.jpg
  • 132 - Murambi, Rwanda.jpg
  • 133 - NTS.jpg
  • 134 - Mauthausen Soviet monument.jpg
  • 135 - pullution, Kazakhstan.JPG
  • 136 - palm oil madness.jpg
  • 137 - Berlin socialist realism.jpg
  • 138 - Indonesia wildfire.jpg
  • 139 - Pawiak, Warsaw.jpg
  • 140 - flying death, military museum Dresden.JPG
  • 141 - KGB gear.JPG
  • 142 - KZ jacket.JPG
  • 143 - ex-USSR.JPG
  • 144 - Indonesia fruit bats.JPG
  • 145 - Alcatraz.JPG
  • 146 - Chernobyl Museum, Kiev, Ukraine.JPG
  • 147 - Halemaumau lava lake glow, Hawaii.JPG
  • 148 - Rosinenbomber at Tempelhof, Berlin.jpg
  • 149 - Verdun, France.JPG
  • 150 - hospital, Vukovar, Croatia.JPG
  • 151 - the original tomb of Napoleon, St Helena.JPG
  • 152 - Buchenwald, Germany.JPG
  • 153 - Bhopal.JPG
  • 154 - Groß-Rosen, Poland.jpg
  • 155 - at Monino, Russia.jpg
  • 156 - blinking Komodo.jpg
  • 157 - inside Chernobyl NPP.JPG
  • 158 - Mount St Helens, USA.JPG
  • 159 - Maly Trostenec, Minsk, Belarus.jpg
  • 160 - Vucedol skulls, Croatia.JPG
  • 161 - colourful WW1 shells.JPG
  • 162 - Zeljava airbase in Croatia.JPG
  • 163 - rusting wrecks, Chernobyl.JPG
  • 164 - San Bernadine alle Ossa, Milan, Italy.jpg
  • 165 - USS Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.JPG
  • 166 - Brest Fortress, Belarus.JPG
  • 167 - thousands of bats, Dom Rep.JPG
  • 168 - Hohenschönhausen, Berlin.JPG
  • 169 - Perm-36 gulag site.JPG
  • 170 - Jasenovac, Croatia.JPG
  • 171 - Beelitz Heilstätten.JPG
  • 172 - Kremlin, Moscow.jpg
  • 173 - old arms factory, Dubnica.JPG
  • 174 - Pervomaisc ICBM base, more  missiles, including an SS-18 Satan.jpg
  • 175 - Cellular Jail, Port Blair.jpg
  • 176 - Bunker Valentin, Germany.JPG
  • 177 - control room, Chernobyl NPP.JPG
  • 178 - Lest we Forget, Ypres.JPG
  • 179 - the logo again.jpg

Malta at War Museum & WWII shelters

  
   - darkometer rating: 5 -
  
A war museum in Vittoriosa, Malta, which focuses mainly on WWII, and, together with the official National War Museum at Fort St Elmo (with its much broader historical scope), is the main institution on the subject on the island. Moreover, it incorporates a system of underground tunnels that were used as air-raid shelters during the bombing of Malta in WWII. 
More background info: for general historical background see under Malta (and also cf. National War Museum, Lascaris War Rooms and Mgarr WWII Shelter).
   
The museum is part of the network of sites run by Wirt Artna, the Malta Heritage Foundation (like the Lascaris War Rooms, the Saluting Battery and Fort Rinella).
  
It is housed within the counterguard part of the 17th century bastions that form the main fortification of the inland-wards rear of Vittoriosa next to Couvre Porte Gate. Casemates added in the 18th century were later used as a military barracks and during WWII as a HQ for the police and the civil defence centre. These included a network of tunnels dug into the rock underneath to serve as an air-raid shelter. These too form part of the museum today.
   
The museum's development was financed with the help of money from the EU Regional Development Fund and opened in its current, expanded form in 2012.
   
   
What there is to see: On arrival you are asked to leave any large bags/backpacks and coats in the lockers provided. Then you're free to roam. If you wish you can pick up a free audio guide too from the front desk.
   
The main exhibition is a bit cramped in places (space is limited inside these old bastions) but it's decently laid-out. There are larger text panels providing relevant historical information and, except for a few spelling errors suggesting some tighter editing would have been beneficial, they are nice and clearly written.
   
Thematically, the coverage starts with the run-up to WWII and a prehistory of aerial bombing (including Guernica) and the development of civil defence measures against this new type of warfare. The situation in Malta is described, which at the time before the war was a largely rural society with only a few workers employed in the harbour and a largely poor population inland, and with still very limited infrastructure.
   
A particular emphasis is given to the development of air-raid shelters, from very crude early reinforcements within existing buildings to the type of underground tunnels later dug en masse into Malta's soft rock. Apparently well over 400 such tunnel systems were eventually constructed (see below). The organization of these shelters, administered by a subsection of the police, is described in some detail.
   
There's also a side-section on chemical warfare – accompanied by the display of a veritable collection of gas masks. Another extra section is about Italy's endeavours to create a colony in Abyssinia (see Ethiopia) and Mussolini's desire to take Malta as well.
   
But most of the exhibition then concentrates on Malta, the “Blitz” and civil defence. In addition to lots of artefacts, photos and period posters, there are a few interactive elements, such as an audio station where you can listen to various air-raid alarm signals as well as computer touchscreens where more in-depth extra information can be punched up.
   
In the section about air raids a large number of different types of ordnance and bombs are on display, alongside uniforms and other smaller artefacts, plus a few bigger items such as an anti-aircraft gun and a big searchlight. The ship convoys to supply Malta and the dramatic stories of some of the ships involved is recounted here as well. Another touchscreen provides the individual stories of a couple of dozen such ships.
   
One display cabinet is about the George Cross awarded the island for its resilience during the siege and bombardments in WWII, including the display of another replica of the cross and the certificate it came with (like at the National War Museum). Also featured here is the full-length screening of the documentary film entitled “Malta G.C.” which was commissioned by Britain after the siege to celebrate Malta's war effort.
   
Civil Defence remains the main focus, though, and covers subsections such as those about food rationing, the black market, medical services, press & communications, and so on. Again interactive touchscreens supplement the static panels and displays.
   
The latter sections of the exhibition are about developments following the siege, such as the Allied invasion of Sicily/Italy in “Operation Husky”, the final victory in WWII, post-war reconstruction, and the eventual path of Malta to independence (see under Malta in general).
   
And that would be more or less it – if it weren't for the separate WWII shelters underneath the museum (and beyond). And it's these that are the real highlight of this museum. Of all those air-raid shelter tunnel systems accessible to the public on a regular basis on Malta (see Mgarr, Mosta, St Paul's), these have to be regarded as the best in terms of reconstruction and commodification.
   
At the top of the steps leading down to the air-raid shelters is a large basket with hard hats and you are encouraged to help yourself to one to wear while visiting the tunnels. And if you're anywhere near as tall as I am it will quickly become obvious that this is indeed a very good idea (without the hard hat I would have ended up with multiple bruises and grazes on my scalp).
   
The tunnel system below is quite labyrinthine, and even with the help of the maps displayed at various points inside them, orientation is not always easy. There are numbered points of interest and backlit text-and-photo panels provide background information about all of these. The points include reconstructions of the cubicle of the shelter warden (complete with a dummy warden mannequin), some private cubicles, the chapel, supply rooms, reconstructions of early air-defence measures (plus information about other types of air-raid shelters in Britain, Germany and Italy), a first-aid post, a surgery and even a birth room.
   
A comparatively spacious cavern, apparently a communal refuge room, features a large graffito saying “Bomb Rome, OK!” … that call for retribution was probably quite a common sentiment amongst the Maltese during the early bombing campaigns by the Italian air force, though seeing it here today seems just a little “politically incorrect”.
   
Note that some of the connecting passageways down in these tunnels are very narrow and low indeed – so it's not something for those suffering from claustrophobia.
   
All in all, I'd say that this (possibly together with the Lascaris War Rooms) is the best of the various war-themed attractions in Malta. As a museum it's possibly on a par with the National War Museum, but unlike that it comes with the considerable extra bonus of featuring those reconstructed air-raid shelter tunnels. Absolutely not to be missed when in Malta!
   
   
Location: inside the fortifications of Birgu (aka Vittoriosa) facing inland, right next to the old main city gate.
   
Google maps locator: [35.8854, 14.5226]
   
   
Access and costs: a little hidden, but not too tricky to get to. Mid-priced.
   
Details: To get to the museum by public transport it's best to get bus line 2 or 3 from Valletta central bus station. The bus stop you want (called Riche) is the one on the big roundabout just outside the gate of Birgu (line 2 actually continues into the centre of Birgu, which is however further away from the museum entrance). Alternatively you can get the passenger ferry from Valletta Lascaris Quay to the Three Cities – the landing point is a ca. ten-minute walk from the museum (it's signposted). If you come by car, there's a small number of parking spaces just opposite the fortification, or else down by the marina
   
Access to the museum entrance is through the Couvre Porte Gate, the original main gate to the walled city of Birgu.
   
Opening times: Monday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., last admission half an hour before closing time. Closed on Sundays and major public holidays.
   
Admission: 12 EUR for adults (only 5 EUR for children, and 10 EUR for seniors). You can save money if you want to visit all four Wirt Artna sites (the other three being Fort Rinella, the Lascaris War Rooms and the Saluting Battery); their “multi-site heritage pass” costs 30 EUR per person (or 50 EUR for a family ticket).
   
Audio guides are available in some ten languages, including English, French, German, Spanish, Russian, Dutch, Chinese and a few more. Use of these is free of charge.
   
   
Time required: I spent about an hour and a half at this site, but I presume those who want to read every text panel and make use of all the audiovisual material provided can spend much longer than that here.
   
   
Combinations with other dark destinations: in general see under Birgu/Vittoriosa.
   
Further away, a good combination is going to Fort Rinella, which is also run by the Wirt Artna Heritage Foundation. In fact they even offer a free shuttle service from the Museum at 12:45h (but you should register for this service in advance, so they know they have to pick you up – as they come all the way from Valletta's Saluting Battery). You can also get combination tickets covering these and the remaining two sites in Valletta that are also run under the Wirt Artna umbrella (see above), namely the Lascaris War Rooms and the Saluting Battery, at a more favourable rate than what you'd have to pay for all of them separately (see above).
   
    
Combinations with non-dark destinations: See under Birgu/Vittoriosa.  
   
   
   
  • MWM 01 - signposted entranceMWM 01 - signposted entrance
  • MWM 02 - inside the main exhibitionMWM 02 - inside the main exhibition
  • MWM 03 - air-raid precautionsMWM 03 - air-raid precautions
  • MWM 04 - audio stationMWM 04 - audio station
  • MWM 05 - air warMWM 05 - air war
  • MWM 06 - bombsMWM 06 - bombs
  • MWM 07 - more war stuffMWM 07 - more war stuff
  • MWM 08 - the medical sideMWM 08 - the medical side
  • MWM 09 - interactive touch screen stationMWM 09 - interactive touch screen station
  • MWM 10 - bread is important in MaltaMWM 10 - bread is important in Malta
  • MWM 11 - the mediaMWM 11 - the media
  • MWM 12 - the famous George Cross againMWM 12 - the famous George Cross again
  • MWM 13 - gas mask and helmetMWM 13 - gas mask and helmet
  • MWM 14 - stairs to the underground air-raid shelterMWM 14 - stairs to the underground air-raid shelter
  • MWM 15 - planMWM 15 - plan
  • MWM 16 - underground bunk bedsMWM 16 - underground bunk beds
  • MWM 17 - dummy wardenMWM 17 - dummy warden
  • MWM 18 - basicMWM 18 - basic
  • MWM 19 - another chamberMWM 19 - another chamber
  • MWM 20 - cave lifeMWM 20 - cave life
  • MWM 21 - slightly better beddingMWM 21 - slightly better bedding
  • MWM 22 - kitchenMWM 22 - kitchen
  • MWM 23 - main tunnelMWM 23 - main tunnel
  • MWM 24 - narrow side passagewaysMWM 24 - narrow side passageways
  • MWM 25 - very narrow indeedMWM 25 - very narrow indeed
  • MWM 26 - first-aid stationMWM 26 - first-aid station
  • MWM 27 - suppliesMWM 27 - supplies
  • MWM 28 - ceiling supportMWM 28 - ceiling support
  • MWM 29 - call for retributionMWM 29 - call for retribution
  • MWM 30 - hospital roomMWM 30 - hospital room
  • MWM 31 - birth roomMWM 31 - birth room
  • MWM 32 - now wash your handsMWM 32 - now wash your hands
   
   
 

 

 

 

  

  

  

© dark-tourism.com, Peter Hohenhaus 2010-2019

Cookies make it easier for us to provide you with our services. With the usage of our services you permit us to use cookies.
More information Ok