Lascaris War Rooms
Buried deep underneath the Upper Barracca Gardens in the heart of Valletta’s atmospheric old town, the Lascaris War Rooms are secreted away in a warren of subterranean manmade tunnels and were the nerve center from which Allied commanders directed air and sea forces in the Mediterranean Sea during World War II. From here General Eisenhower and Field Marshal Montgomery coordinated the Invasion of Sicily in 1943 and the defence of Malta was organized during the Nazi blitz bombing of the island in 1940–43. After the war the tunnels became HQ of the British Navy’s Mediterranean fleet and, during the Cold War of the 1960s, a NATO strategic communication center.
Today this once-secret two-story complex of tunnels, secret offices, radar systems, encryption machines, telephone exchanges and sleeping quarters are open for all to explore. Carefully restored in 2009 and now staffed by waxwork models instead of great generals, this war-era time capsule has as its heart the operations rooms where all military maneuvers were monitored. All tours (guided or self-guided) begin with a Pathé newsreel broadcast showing the journey of a supply convoy from Britain to Malta and highlighting the plight of the island during World War II. It’s best to get there early or buy a ticket ahead of time to jump the lines; history buffs often combine the War Rooms with a visit to Valletta’s National War Museum.