There is an Intricate web of tunnels under Valletta, but very few people know about them, and much fewer have actually seen them. According to research carried out by architect Edward Said, underneath the capital city lies its lifeline -a vast maze of wells and reservoirs, sewers and war shelters.
The history of the maze under Valletta goes back centuries. The importance of an underground water system was recognised when Grand Master La Valette started building the capital. After all, a city without water is vulnerable, especially when the need might arise to close it off in case of attacks.
At the time, building rules stipulated that each house had to have a basement and a reservoir, using the stone dug from beneath. Houses also had to have an underground connection for sewage, with the Knights also building a number of public reservoirs underneath public spaces.
But what really made underground Valletta what it is today was World War II. Said points out that when war broke out there was a rush to excavate air raid shelters. Civil engineers and architects surveyed all the existing underground spaces and connected them. Most of them are stuck in a time warp and going inside shelters is like going back in time.
Unfortunately there is no scneduled access to the tunnels, which are the responsibility of the Valletta Rehabilitation Project -and at the moment there are no plans to open them up for the public. However, during the large activities organised in the city, such as Notte Bianca held on October 6, tours of the tunnels are organised. Casa Rocca Piccola in Republic Street offers a glimpse into what lies beneath the city. Its bomb shelter (that also served as a church during World War II) is connected to the city's tunnels and is open to the public.