Built on the first peninsula of the Grand Harbour, the site was known as Gallows Point since it served for the hanging of rioteer slaves. In 1629 Chev. Alessandro Orsi financed the building of the San Petronio Tower at the edge of the peninsula. In 1669 Grand Master Nicolás Cotoner y de Oleza commissioned engineer Antonio Maurizio Valperga to design a large fortress. Chev. Giovanni Francesco Ricasoli donated 20,000 scudi for its construction, thus bearing his name.
The first stone of Fort Ricasoli was laid on 15th June 1670. The barracks, the chapel dedicated to Saint Nicholas and other structures were built between 1680 and 1690. It was fully completed and armed by May 1698. Over the years the fort went through many changes and has been utilised even as a prison, while in present days it serves as location for various international movies.