Plate 24Buttressed wall at eastern end of Chapel

It is interesting to note that the eastern wall of the Chapel is built in a sloping “buttressed” manner, resembling a bastion wall, so that it is 60 centimeters thicker at its base than at its top (24). The reason for this additional thickness limited to just 4.6 metres length of wall is not understood. Fortified buildings in Malta would normally have the entire perimeter of the ground floor built in this manner, not just one short wall. This wall directly faces St Julians Bay, just 1.2 kilometers away as the crow flies, a possible landing place for invaders who could then access the main valley in the area, Wied Ghomor, from Spinola Bay and make their way up its slope to the Torri ta’ Lanzun; it may be that this wall was built in this manner to visually accentuate the “fortified” nature of the property, a building to be avoided by invaders, which would have been clearly visible on the high land above the bay, and to therefore dissuade invaders from considering an attack. This is the only plausible explanation, because there are no structural reasons, or any sub-soil conditions, which would warrant the strengthening of this wall.

It is considered to be highly unlikely that the Torri had any defensive purposes when built during and after 1713. The last recorded Ottoman attack on Malta was the Turkish invasion of Marsaxlokk and Zejtun in 1614, almost one hundred years before the construction of the building. Following this raid, coastal observation towers were constructed by the Knights of St John, and the Floriana and Cottonera Lines were built between 1635 and 1670. Therefore the stretch of coastline to the east, north east and south east of the Torri were well scrutinised by the time the Torri was constructed, particularly from the towers built between 1636 and 1660 at Ghallis, Madliena, St George’s Bay, St Julians and Xghajra 7; apart, of course, from St Elmo in Valletta. It is improbable therefore that additional observation of the coast from the Torri would have been necessary. In addition, the fact that there are only two small windows overlooking the exterior at first floor, the lack of a parapet wall around the roofs of the farmhouse, and the fact that the stone roof construction could certainly not bear the load of armaments, reinforce this theory.

However, it must be said that other examples of fortified residential properties which were built during the approximate period of the construction of the Torri do exist in Malta, in areas which were accessible from the coast or were isolated. In Qrendi for example, one finds a house belonging to Bailiff de Guarena, built between 1735 and 1740, and a house belonging to Fra Philipp Wolfgang von Guttenberg built between 1647 and 1733, which are both built as fortified residences, in spite of their relatively late dates of construction 6. It is probable that the concept of building secure places by those with the means to do so continued in Malta well after the last Muslim invasion.

Various sources state that the building was used as an observation post during the War, however once more no evidence of this is available.