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The War Headquarters (War H.Q.) tunnels served as the operational base for the British Combined War Headquarters from 1940 to 1977. This expansive underground labyrinth, spanning approximately 35,000 square meters, was strategically carved into the live rock to ensure its resilience against bombings. Maintained as the island's most classified location for over 50 years, its recent accessibility to the public is credited to Fondazzjoni Wirt Artna - the Malta Heritage Trust, following a thorough restoration process. Situated 40 to 60 feet below ground, the tunnel complex extends beneath the Upper Barracca Gardens, traversing the Valletta ditch, and reaching under the Kalkara Gardens in Floriana. Its origins trace back to 1570, constituting an ancient Hospitaller Knight's communication gallery. This historic passageway connected SS Peter and Paul Counter-Guard with the city's primary fortifications, adding a unique layer of significance to its rich heritage.










In 1940, this site was repurposed to house naval and artillery headquarters, equipped with their respective operation rooms for conducting defense and offense operations. In May 1941, the Royal Air Force joined, transferring its fighter operations room and radar filter room from an above-ground facility to this location. These facilities were set up alongside the existing Royal Artillery Anti-aircraft Gun Operations Room and, together with radar, formed the backbone of Malta's first-rate air defense system.

The operation rooms were supported by radio cubicles, offices, and a canteen. Separate dormitories for other ranks and officers, including commanders, were also part of the infrastructure. Throughout the Battle for Malta (1941-42) and the Siege (1940-43), the defense of the island was coordinated from the operation rooms. Additional tunneling in the vicinity was carried out to provide room for expansion while this headquarters was operational.








In May 1943, this allowed a significant portion of the headquarters to move to newly prepared underground facilities next door, now known as the Lascaris War Rooms. This relocation was completed in preparation for Operation Husky, the Allied invasion of Sicily on July 9/10, 1943. During the campaign, the Lascaris War Rooms, supported by the original War HQ, served as the Allied Headquarters from where General Eisenhower, assisted by General Montgomery, General Alexander, Air Marshal Tedder, and Admiral Cunningham, launched and led the successful invasion of Sicily.

The Malta War HQ was the first military combined war headquarters where inter-service cooperation between all the fighting services was successfully employed, influencing military doctrine ever since. After the war, it underwent many modernizations and changes. Between 1955 and 1970, its operational and communication facilities were shared with NATO. In 1956, during the Suez Crisis, it served as the Operational HQ for the invasion of Egypt. In 1962, while the world faced a global nuclear war risk due to the Cuban Missile Crisis, the War HQ, Malta, was placed on war footing, awaiting immediate Soviet retaliation against British and NATO military facilities in Malta. However, as Malta became independent and British interests in the Mediterranean changed, leading to the closure of the British military base in Malta in March 1979, the War HQ was closed down in July 1977 and abandoned. In 2009, it was restored by the voluntary non-governmental organization Fondazzjoni Wirt Artna - The Malta Heritage Trust and opened to the public.



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Malta Time Gun-Museum

Saluting Battery

Malta at War Museum

Fort Rinella

SS Peter & Paul Counter Guard

St Peter's Galleries

Lascaris War Rooms



Monday - Saturday

Admission is only offered as part of a guided tour (Click HERE for more info) 

(Except on 24,25 and 31 Dec, 1 Jan, Good Friday and Easter)


Access via: Saluting Battery, Battery Street, Valletta, VLT1221, Malta


Members: FREE

Adult (16+ years old): €17

Child (5-15 years old): €7

Entrance Fees (incl. guided tour & audio-guide)
+ Entry to Ss Peter & Paul Counter-guard

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