World War II Shelters

Shelters in Malta were crucial in order to saves the lives of many people once World War II broke out. These World War II shelters consist of about 50 rooms and circa 350 people used to come down and take refuge here during air raids. The government was in charge of providing the people of Rabat, as well as other refugees who came here from all over the island, with the main corridors of the shelters.  Two of these corridors can be seen in this area. Each family would then pay to have their own room dug up with pick axes. For this reason the rooms were numbered, and evidence of this is still seen in these shelters. 

Families tried to make their rooms look and feel a bit more comfortable by having planks of wood which served as doors for privacy. They also made the shelter rooms more homely by painting the walls, adding tiles and some also had electricity. Since finances were very limited at the time, most of the shelters were illuminated by simple oil lamps or candles. These shelters are found deep underground in order to get the best protection from bombs. They are in fact situated just below the Roman catacombs. When these shelters were being dug out, a lot of the rubble was placed in the catacombs above. This was purposely done since it provided more support if a bomb was to fall on the area. If this was not done the hollow catacombs could have possibly given way with the force of the blasts and would have buried the people taking refuge in the shelters below.  

Even though the Rabat and Mdina area were not highly bombarded areas, air raids were frequently sounded and these shelters provided some shelter and security during such dreadful times.