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Malta’s Hand-Hewn Bomb Shelter Tunnels

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During World War Two, the Grand Harbor in Malta was the most-bombed place in the world, under aerial bombardment for two full years because of its position as a central Mediterranean base for British air and sea forces. While these attacks were focused on the harbor facilities, most of the island’s population lived right in the same area, and civilian casualties during the war were substantial. In an effort to safeguard the population, a vast number of underground bomb shelter tunnels were dug.

The island of Malta is mostly relatively soft limestone, and the Maltese are quite experienced in working it, after millenia of quarrying limestone to build structures and digging it out to make cisterns and wells. This allowed an otherwise enormous project to be successful – using mostly hand tools, enough shelters were dug to safely house the entire at-risk population. Many of these shelters and shelter complexes are open to the public today, including the system under the Malta At War Museum, which we are visiting today…

I am grateful for the Malta Tourism Authority’s assistance in helping to make this visit and video possible!

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