Rock-hewn Counterscarp

​​One of the most impressive elements of the land front fortifications of Valletta is its deep rock-hewn ditch. This formidable defensive feature, on average around 25 m deep, was all carved out of the bedrock. It was one of the first features of the fortified city to take shape and also served as a quarry providing most of the stone required for the building of the ramparts and the houses and palaces of Valletta. In 1649, four counterguards designed by the Italian military engineer Giovanni de Medici in 1640 were built on top of the counterscarp in order to provide added protection to the Valletta land front. Around 1735, two pairs of ramps were cut through face of the counterscarp in order to link these counterguards directly to the ditch. These galleries were used as civilian shelters during World War Two. The rock-hewn walls of the counterscarp were also excavated to provide numerous bomb-proof air-raid shelters for the protection of the civilian population. The ERDF 039 project sought to restore and consolidate the consumed and fissured elements of the rock-hewn counterscarp walls.