Attractions
Malta's Fort Ricasoli: a star of the silver screen
This 17th century fort has served as location for some of cinema’s most iconic pictures.

Rebecca Anastasi

Brad Pitt. Orlando Bloom. Steven Spielberg. Ridley Scott. These are just some of the names that have walked the dusty tracks in one of Malta’s most historical sites: Fort Ricasoli. Built towards the end of the 17th century, it is the island’s largest fort, and stood guard against invaders attempting to infiltrate the Grand Harbour for centuries. Today, it is known primarily as the backlot for films shooting in Malta, though over the past few years, it has fallen into a bad state of disrepair, with large sections of it having succumbed to the waves crashing below. Still, whether it stays or – tragically - continues to disappear, it will always remain immortal in these films.

1. Gladiator

Fort Ricasoli: a star of the silver screen

Gladiator / Dreamworks and Universal Pictures

“What we do in life echoes in eternity”. These memorable words reverberated from the ramparts almost 20 years ago now, when Russell Crowe donned his armour in Gladiator (2000). Ancient Rome came to life at Fort Ricasoli: crowds of extras – sometimes numbering up to 1,000 a day – packed the Coliseum and the city streets, which were recreated with painstaking detail. 

2. Troy

Fort Ricasoli: a star of the silver screen

Troy / Warner Bros

Just a few years later, and the star-filled Wolfgang Petersen epic Troy hit the ground running. Ricasoli does have a penchant for sword and sandal films, and it was clear that its crumbling walls, large open spaces and yellow textures made the perfect backdrop for this knock-out, starring Brad Pitt, Orlando Bloom, Eric Bana, Diane Kruger, Brian Cox, Sean Bean, Julie Christie and Peter O’Toole (phew!). 

3. Agora

Fort Ricasoli: a star of the silver screen

Agora / Jean Pierre Borg

Taking notes from the movie makers who came before, Spanish director Alejandro Amenabar (The Sea Inside) used Fort Ricasoli for his story of Hypatia, the female Greek philosopher who lived in Alexandria, in Egypt, played by Rachel Weisz. Large tracts of the fort were used to double for the city, which was then part of the Roman Empire, including the legendary library, which was recreated in painstaking detail. 

4. Game of Thrones

Fort Ricasoli: a star of the silver screen

Game of Thrones / HBO

GoT’s first season was partly shot in Malta and, while the Gozitan sites may be the most quoted (particularly following the fall of the Azure Window, the location for the Dothraki wedding), the series also shot at Fort Ricasoli. Little were we to know the images of this old fort were to form part of one of the greatest stories broadcast on our television screens.

5. The Devil’s Double

Fort Ricasoli: a star of the silver screen

The Devil's Double / Corsan

Filming in 2009, The Devil’s Double by Lee Tamahori, starring Dominic Cooper (of Mamma Mia fame) in the role of Sadam Hussein’s son Uday Hussein, made full use of locations around the island. Fort Ricasoli – with its dusty landscape and rough, gritty textures – was one of the first sites chosen for the shoot. 

17th June 2018


Rebecca Anastasi
Written by
Rebecca Anastasi
Rebecca has dedicated her career to writing and filmmaking, and is committed to telling stories from this little rock in the Mediterranean.

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