The series of underground tunnels beneath Valletta, which date back nearly 500 years, will finally be open to the public every Wednesday and Sunday, starting from this weekend. 

As of November 7, guided Underground Valletta tours will be offered by Heritage Malta every Wednesday and Sunday at 10am and 11am.

Tickets for the tours - which take place three storeys underground - can be purchased online or from the National Museum of Archaeology. 

Video: Jonathan Borg

During the reign of the Knights of St John, military troops would use the tunnels to flee the city, while the underground vaults also doubled up as grain stores. 

A public cistern right beneath Great Siege Square in Republic Street dates back to the 16th century, when a shortage of water in the city banned private gardens and introduced mandatory water reservoirs under houses. 

The tunnels were also used in the 20th century when the Second World War saw over 15,000 bombs dropped on the Maltese Islands. 

During the war, the tunnels served as a refuge from air raids for some 38,000 people, according to a Heritage Malta spokesperson.

In some of the underground rooms, carved crosses and saints are still visible on the walls, while some shelter rooms are decorated with colourful tiles salvaged from bombed houses in the city.

Beautiful tiles found in shelters Photo: Jonathan BorgBeautiful tiles found in shelters Photo: Jonathan Borg

Speaking during the inauguration of the tours on Wednesday, National Heritage Minister Jose Herrera said the public and tourists alike can now fully experience Valletta's culture. 

Heritage Malta's Chief Executive Officer Noel Zammit added that by opening this unique site beneath Valletta, Heritage Malta was now offering visitors a more holistic experience of the historic sites within the capital. 

Photo: Jonathan BorgPhoto: Jonathan Borg

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