If you’re taking the ferry from Valletta to Vittoriosa (Birgu) and have an interest in maritime history, consider visiting the Malta Maritime Museum. Housed in a grand 19th-century building that was once the Royal Navy’s bakery, the museum offers a fascinating look at Malta’s seafaring past, from ancient times to the present day. The museum is divided into two main sections: an exhibition dedicated to the inner workings of a dredging boat, and historical exhibitions covering various periods in Malta’s maritime history.

The SS Anadrian Exhibit

Begin your tour on the ground floor in the museum’s Anadrian Hall, formerly the old mill room of the bakery. Here, you can explore the deconstructed components of the SS Anadrian, a steam-driven grab dredger built around 1951 by Ferguson Brothers of Scotland. This exhibit showcases everything needed to equip the ship, except for the hull.

A helpful diagram illustrates the functioning of the steam propulsion system. You’ll see various components, including:

  1. The boiler
  2. A triple expansion steam engine
  3. Circulator pump
  4. Bilge pump
  5. Diesel generator
  6. Electrical switchboard

The collection also features engine room tools, manuals, testing equipment, and the ship’s bridge/wheelhouse. This exhibit provides a unique opportunity to understand the inner workings of a mid-20th century dredging vessel.

Historical Exhibitions

The upper level of the museum houses an array of artifacts that chronicle Malta’s maritime history. Some of the highlights include:


The museum boasts an impressive collection of anchors, including stone and lead ones. Among these is a 4-ton anchor, said to be the “largest Roman anchor in the world,” as well as a 17th-century galley anchor. These artifacts offer a glimpse into the evolution of anchor technology over the centuries.

Customs Department Items

You’ll find several items from the Maltese Customs Department, such as a 19th-century bell, a weights conversion table, and a standard scale. These objects shed light on the important role that customs played in regulating maritime trade in Malta.

Navigational Instruments

The museum displays a variety of navigational instruments, including sextants and compasses. These tools were essential for sailors to navigate the seas safely and accurately in the days before modern technology.

Ship’s Badges and Patterns

A collection of ship’s badges and patterns provides insight into the visual identity and symbolism associated with various vessels throughout history.

WWI Torpedo

One of the more striking exhibits is a WWI-era torpedo, complete with a cutaway section that allows visitors to see its internal components. This display highlights the technological advancements in naval warfare during the early 20th century.

HMS Hibernia Figurehead

The museum features a figurehead from HMS Hibernia, a ship that served in the British Mediterranean Fleet. Figureheads were once a common sight on the bows of ships, serving both decorative and symbolic purposes.

Diving Equipment

A display of diving equipment showcases the tools and techniques used by divers to explore and work beneath the waves. This exhibit underscores the importance of diving in various aspects of maritime history, from salvage operations to underwater archaeology.

Traditional Maltese Boats

You can see examples of traditional Maltese boats, such as the dgħajsa, a type of water taxi. These vessels provide a glimpse into the everyday life and transportation methods of Malta’s coastal communities.

Ship Models

The museum houses a unique collection of miniature ships, including replicas of a carrack vessel and a third-rate ship of the line of the Order of Saint John. These intricate models offer a detailed look at the design and construction of historical ships.


The museum’s art collection includes a 16th-century ex-voto painting of the Madonna of the Fleet by Antonello Ricci. Ex-voto paintings were often commissioned by sailors or their families as a way to give thanks for divine intervention during times of peril at sea.

Portraits and Busts

Portraits and busts of notable figures in Malta’s maritime history are on display, including:

  • Rear Admiral Sir Nigel Cecil
  • Sir Alexander John Ball
  • Admiral Lord Nelson
  • Admiral Charles Lambe
  • Eric Sullivan
  • Queen Victoria

These portraits and busts serve as a reminder of the individuals who played significant roles in shaping Malta’s naval and seafaring heritage.

Plan Your Visit

The Malta Maritime Museum is located on the Vittoriosa (Birgu) Waterfront, making it easily accessible by ferry from Valletta. Admission prices are as follows:

  • Adult Admission: €5.00
  • Adult Admission (Ages 60 and Over): €3.50
  • Child Admission (Ages 12 – 17): €3.50
  • Child Admission (Ages 6 – 11): €2.50
  • Child Admission (Ages 1 – 5): Free

As you explore the museum, take your time to read the informative displays and learn about the stories behind each artifact. From the ancient anchors to the modern diving equipment, each exhibit contributes to a deeper understanding of Malta’s rich maritime heritage.

Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a nautical aficionado, or simply looking for a unique and educational experience, the Malta Maritime Museum is well worth a visit. So, when you find yourself in Vittoriosa, be sure to stop by and discover the fascinating world of Malta’s seafaring past.

Similar Posts