Torre dello Standardo

The Torre dello Standardo (English: Tower of the Standard, Maltese: It-Torri tal-Istandard) is a tower in Mdina, Malta, forming part of the city's fortifications. It was built by the Order of St. John between 1725 and 1726, on the site of an earlier tower, and its purpose was to communicate signals between Mdina and the rest of Malta. Today, the tower is in good condition, and it serves as a tourist information centre and for occasional cultural events.

Torre dello Standardo
It-Torri tal-Istandard
Part of the fortifications of Mdina
Mdina, Malta
View of the Torre dello Standardo
Coordinates35°53′5.9″N 14°24′12.3″E / 35.884972°N 14.403417°E / 35.884972; 14.403417
Site information
OwnerGovernment of Malta
Controlled byRestoration Directorate
Malta Tourism Authority
Open to
the public
Site history
Built byOrder of St. John


Torre Mastra/de la BandieraEdit

The Torre dello Standardo was built on site of a medieval tower called the Torre Mastra (Sicilian: Turri Mastra) or the Torre de la Bandiera (Sicilian: Turri dila Bandiera).[1] The site is located near the Mdina Gate, the main entrance of the city.[2]

It was one of a series of towers located within the fortifications of Mdina.[3][4] The tower, like many other medieval buildings in Mdina, had suffered significant damage during the 1693 Sicily earthquake.[5] The tower was eventually demolished in March 1725 to be replaced by the Torre dello Standardo.[6]

Torre dello Standardo/StendardoEdit

Torre dello Standardo started to be built in 1725 to designs of the French military engineer Charles François de Mondion, as part of a project to rebuild the entrance to Mdina in the Baroque style during the magistracy of Grand Master António Manoel de Vilhena.[6] It was completed in July 1726.[7]

During the Maltese uprising of 1798 against the French occupation of Malta, rebels hosted Maltese, Neapolitan and Portuguese flags on the tower when the Portuguese Navy came to aid the insurgents.[8] It remained in use as a signal tower until the early periods of the British rule.[9]


Purposely builtEdit

Both the Torre Mastra and the Torre dello Standardo served the same purpose to relay signals from Mdina to the rest of the island of Malta.[10] A fire would be ignited to send a warning to the inhabitants and nearby towers in case of an invasion, while it was also armed with canons which fired every evening before the city closes the entrances.[9]

Adaptive reuseEdit

In the 19th century, when the nearby Palazzo Vilhena was used as a sanatorium by the British military, the tower was used to house the porter and other servants of the sanatorium.[11] By 1888, it was being used as a Telegraph Office. The tower eventually became a police station,[12] until the police moved across the street to the former Maltacom Building in 2002.[13]

Since March 2011[14] the tower has been a tourist information centre.[15]


The tower, along with the rear of the Mdina Gate, was depicted on the Lm5 banknote that was in circulation between 1989 and 2007.[16]


The tower's domed cylindrical stair-hood

The Torre dello Standardo's design is similar to the coastal watchtowers such as the De Redin towers that the Order built in Malta during the 17th century.[17] It has the same basic layout, with two floors and a scarped base.[17] However, this tower is of finer construction than the coastal towers, having decorative Baroque elements such as mouldings, as well as escutcheons containing the coats of arms of De Vilhena and the city of Mdina.[17] The sculptural details are the work of Francesco Zahra.[18] The tower has a cylindrical stair-hood with a dome, and this feature is similar to that found at Palazzo Stagno and the now-demolished Gourgion Tower.[17]


The tower is a heritage and cultural building. It was included on the Antiquities List of 1925.[19] It is now scheduled as a Grade 1 national monument,[20] and it is also listed on the National Inventory of the Cultural Property of the Maltese Islands.[10]

Further readingEdit

  • Building material and mason
  • pp.69-70
  • De Lucca, Denis (1985). "Islamic Architectural Manifestations in 18th century Mdina" (PDF). Hyphen (Journal of Melitensia and the Humanities. Malta. IV (5): 159–168.


  1. ^ Ellul, Michael (1998). History on Marble: A Corpus of Inscriptions in the Presidential Palaces in Valletta, San Anton and Verdala, Malta. PEG Publishers Enterprises Group. p. 302. ISBN 9789990901030.
  2. ^ Hoppen, Alison (1979). The fortification of Malta by the Order of St. John, 1530-1798. Scottish Academic Press. p. 100. ISBN 9780707302416.
  3. ^ "History, culture and society in the Mediterranean world". Journal of Mediterranean Studies. University of Malta: Mediterranean Institute. 10-11: 263. 2000. ISSN 1016-3476. OCLC 24102518.
  4. ^ Lino Bugeja, Mario Buhagiar and Stanley Fiorini, eds. (1993). Birgu: A Maltese Maritime City. 1. Msida: Malta University Services. p. 228. ISBN 9789990944006.CS1 maint: uses editors parameter (link)
  5. ^ Instituto Portuguûes do Património Arquitectónico e Arqueológico (1999), "Struggle for synthesis: a obra de arte total nos séculos XVII e XVIII, Volume 1", IPPAR, p. 142.
  6. ^ a b Thake, Conrad Gerald (2017). "Architecture and urban transformations in Mdina during the reign of Grand Master Anton Manoel de Vilhena (1722–1736)". ArcHistoR (AHR – Architecture History Restoration). Università Mediterranea di Reggio Calabria. 4 (7): 89. doi:10.14633/AHR054. ISSN 2384-8898. Archived from the original on 3 August 2017.
  7. ^ Thake, Conrad Gerald (1996). MDINA: Architectural and Urban Transformations of a Citadel in Malta (Thesis). University of California, Berkeley. p. 64. OCLC 36350174.
  8. ^ Cini, George (2 September 2008). "Vital Portuguese role in Maltese revolt of 1798 unrecognised". Times of Malta. Archived from the original on 30 September 2015.
  9. ^ a b Morana, Martin (2012). Ara x'int tgħid: glossarju enċiklopediku ta' termini storiċi, toponimi, qwiel u idjomi, tradizzjonijiet Maltin, kurżitajiet oħra (in Maltese). Martin Morana. p. 245. ISBN 9789995703608. OCLC 830362895.
  10. ^ a b "Torre dello Standardo – Mdina" (PDF). National Inventory of the Cultural Property of the Maltese Islands. 28 June 2013. Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 July 2015.
  11. ^ "Staff Medical Officers of the Malta Garrison 1868". Archived from the original on 22 November 2013.
  12. ^ Guillaumier, Alfie (1987). Bliet u Rħula Maltin (in Maltese). Valletta: Valletta Publishing & Promotion Co. Ltd. p. 449.
  13. ^ "Mdina police station to move". Times of Malta. 10 May 2002. Archived from the original on 13 March 2016.
  14. ^ Mdina council takes over tower, garden and shelters. 30 March 2011. Times of Malta. Retrieved 22 June 2016.
  15. ^ "Info Offices". Archived from the original on 6 September 2015.
  16. ^ "Maltese Lira". Central Bank of Malta. Archived from the original on 27 September 2015.
  17. ^ a b c d Azzopardi, Joe (October 2013). "The Gourgion Tower - Gone but not Forgotten (Part 1)" (PDF). Vigilo. Din l-Art Ħelwa (44): 45–47. ISSN 1026-132X. Archived from the original on 11 February 2014.CS1 maint: unfit url (link)
  18. ^ de Lucca, Denis (2008). "Alcune Reflesioni sulla Reconstruzzone del Luogo Forte di Mdina a Malta dopo il Terremoto del 1693". Arx Journal. 5 (5): 29.
  19. ^ "Protection of Antiquities Regulations 21st November, 1932 Government Notice 402 of 1932, as Amended by Government Notices 127 of 1935 and 338 of 1939". Malta Environment and Planning Authority. Archived from the original on 20 April 2016.
  20. ^ "No. 348 – Development Planning Act, 1992 – Scheduling of Property" (PDF). Malta Government Gazette. Government of Malta. 20 April 2001. p. 4015. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 March 2016.

External linksEdit

  Media related to Torre dello Standardo at Wikimedia Commons