Malta Public Transport

Notre Dame Gate

The five-storey guard of Cottonera

Thousands of people go through the Notre Dame Gate in Birgu every day without batting an eyelid but crossing through was not that easy when the structure was completed in 1675. The imposing gate is built on the highest point in the Cottonera area and joined the Notre Dame defensive curtain, facing ┼╗abbar. Originally, it was cut off from the town by ditch and drawbridge shutting out any potential attacks on the cities of Vittoriosa, Cospicua, and Senglea.

With its commanding views, the gate also served as a strategic communications node between defences in Valletta and the east of the island. The baroque façade decorated with intricate masonry work hides the belligerent innards of the gate which include two barrack blocks and underground chambers built on five storeys.

A fine bronze bust of Grand Master Nicola Cotoner sits watchful at the top of the gate, giving the structure is colloquial name, Bieb is-Sultan (The King’s Gateway). Legend has it that the gaze of the statue is pointing towards a hidden treasure, but treasure hunters are still digging for it.

Notre Dame Gate is administered by Fondazzjoni Wirt Artna and visits are held on Wednesday mornings.

Getting there

Route number 124 between Marsaskala and Isla drives through Notre Dame Gate. You may get off either on the Birgu side at bus stop Sultan or on the ┼╗abbar side at bus stop Dominka. The route leaves Marsaskala every 60 minutes on the half hour from 6:30 to 21:30.