A 10-minute walk from Auberge de Baviere, moving across the fortifications with the view of Tigne Point to your left and the Breakwater to your right, will take you to the magnificent Fort St Elmo and its adjacent Granaries.
Essentially, the Granaries are huge underground silos that were cut in rock following orders of the Knights of St John. The idea was part of a military strategy which would see huge quantities of grain stored underground in case of food shortages caused by a siege.
Each bell-shaped reservoir is capped with a large circular stone that would be sealed shut with mortar in order to ensure a dry environment that wouldn’t cause the wheat to spoil. Today, the space is mostly used by picnicking families in the warmer months, where an ice-cream van can often be seen in residence close by. However, it was thanks to these fosos (the Maltese word for Granaries) that the French held out so long before surrendering during the blockade of 1798-1800.
St Elmo Granaries – what about the rest?
The St Elmo Granaries were not the only ones to be built for food storage purposes and there were four other such locations scattered around Valletta and Floriana. Not all of them have made it to the present day – most notably, the granaries in front of Auberge de Castille were covered in tarmac when the area surrounding the Auberge was being landscape.
Perhaps the most notable ones nowadays are the Granaries in Floriana, which by far cover the largest area. The 75 Granaries were actually built by the British, but nowadays offer another picnic spot for residents. A typical summer night will see families turning up armed with snacks and wine, hoping to catch the fresh breeze.
The Floriana Granaries are also regularly used for massive open-air concerts and events, such as the super popular Isle of MTV, bringing to Malta a series of A-listers.