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Mistra is located opposite to the village of St Paul’s which overlooks and commands the entrance into St Paul’s Bay. This port provided ample (although somewhat exposed) anchorage and the shallow waters and sandy beaches at Xemxija and Mistra made the place a good one to land troops.

The north of Malta was particularly exposed to corsair depredations with St Paul’s Bay being a favourite target. It was for this reason that in 1610 Grand Master Wignacourt built a large tower commanding the entrance into St Paul’s Bay.


In their report of January 1715 the Commissioners of Fortifications, D’Arginy and Fontet proposed to enhance the coastal defences of this area by building a battery at the foot of St Paul’s tower; to build another battery to cover the beach at Pwales: ‘nel fondo vicino al luogo dove si puo scendere in terra’, and another that was to be placed ‘sovra un altura che difende l’ancoraggio et il seno della dritta’(Mistra).

The work on Mistra Battery started at some point towards the end of February or the beginning of March 1715. The construction of the battery was contracted to Mastro Giovanni Zammit who was paid 133 scudi for his endeavours. The sum paid to Zammit indicates that the work was not extensive and could have been nothing more than the clearance of an area to serve as a gun platform and the construction of a low parapet wall. The average cost of a battery amounted to around 1,100 scudi. Furthermore, the records of the Order, which provide detailed accounts of the costs of constructing coastal batteries, do not mention Mistra. It is speculated that the work started at an early period but was not completed at the time. The work was perfected and altered over time.

The construction of the battery appears to have occurred in three distinct stages. The parapet is a low dry-stone wall capped with stone slabs. The blockhouse on the right-hand side of the battery was built of small sized stone. It appears that the left-hand blockhouse, along with the redan, were constructed later using larger stone blocks.

It could be that the shape of the battery itself was different. A map of Malta printed in Abbe Vertot’s history of the Order of St John indicates that Mistra Battery had a rectangular footprint. Although this map cannot be considered as a concrete record, one has to give due weight to the fact that different shapes are used for different batteries and redoubts.

The battery was expanded some time during the rule of Grand Master Pinto and given its present layout. It is assumed that Pinto financed some of the work himself and this was proudly manifested by the large coat of arms sculpted over the battery’s doorway. This could explain why a battery initiated during the time of Perellos displays the coat of arms of Grand Master Pinto. In addition to the coat of arms of Pinto and the Order of St John there is a smaller shield reproducing a much-eroded coat of arms. Some authors have suggested that this could be the coat of arms of the Bali de Montagnac; however, this theory is disputed as the remaining motifs on the stone sculpture do not match the arms of Montagnac.



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Admission is only available through pre-booking

Mistra Battery, St Paul's Bay, Malta


Entrance Fees (incl. guided tour)

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