Valletta, Malta, is the capital city of the Maltese Islands. Malta is not just one island, but a group of 3 islands in the Mediterranean. Of these 3 islands, 2 are inhabited, and those two are Malta, the largest island, and Gozo. The uninhabited island is called Comino. The interesting and turbulent history of the island, accompanied by one of the best beaches in Europe and a rich nightlife, has made Malta one of the most interesting holiday tourist destinations in Europe in recent years.
The island is very close to Italy (96 km from Sicily), and Africa is not far from it either (291 km). With its small area and a small number of inhabitants, Malta is a real micro country and one of the smallest countries in Europe, and its capital Valletta has only 7,000 inhabitants!
Malta has a lot to offer.
Certainly the most interesting is the island of Malta, where tourists usually spend time while in this country. It is believed that there are as many as 362 churches on the two largest islands of this country, and perhaps the most interesting is St. John’s Co-Cathedral in Valletta.
I especially liked the Rotunda of St Marija Assunta in Mosta. This imposing church was built during the 19th century in imitation of the famous Pantheon in Rome, and what is interesting is that during World War II it was hit by a 200 kg shell that fell through its roof, but did not explode!
Also interesting are The Parish Church of Christ the King in Paola, the Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Bauta, the Parish Church of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary in Mellieha, as well as St Paul’s Cathedral in Mdina. Basically, there is enough for the church.
Grand Master La Valette envisioned the city as a hub of political, economic, and cultural activity in 16th-century Europe. It would be a place in which trade, handicrafts, and the arts would flourish. And it would possess unique features that would make it stand out from other European cities. So he engaged prominent architects and engineers to design the city.
Indeed, Laparelli and Girolamo Cassar designed a 16th-century fortified city unlike any other. Its waste disposal and drainage system would prevent decay. Its unique grid design would counteract the stifling heat by allowing the sea breeze to flow naturally through the city. And its high buildings and narrow streets would keep the city mostly shaded.
The new city design also included insurmountable bastions and a large ditch that separated it from the mainland. Within Valletta city, the Knights planned the magnificent St John’s Co-Cathedral, the Sacra Infermeria hospital, a number of palaces, and several Auberges that would be their homes. Over 8,000 men worked for five years to create ‘a city built by gentlemen for gentlemen.’
Valletta’s location is strategic. The peninsula on which Valletta eventually rose separates two of the finest natural harbours in the Mediterranean sea. Fort St Elmo commands the entrance to the harbours. Behind it, the city of Valletta sprawls within the imposing bastions erected along the water’s edge of the entire peninsula. On the north side lies Marsamxett harbour. And on the south side is the magnificent Grand Harbour, with its several creeks where ships can shelter.
Along these creeks, the Knights fortified the Three Cities of Birgu, Bormla and Isla. Later, they built Valletta, effectively surrounding the Grand Harbour with awesome 16th-century fortifications. Marsamxett Harbour, on the other hand, includes Fort Manoel on Manoel Island, with contrasting high-rises on the opposite side, in Sliema.
Wherever you are in Valletta, you are just minutes from the beautiful Mediterranean sea and the fresh salty air. Several gardens offering magnificent sea views embellish Valletta’s fortifications. The Upper Barrakka Gardens offer stunning panoramic views of the Grand Harbour and the Three Cities across the water. Go at noon for an impressive cannon fire from the Saluting Battery below. The modern Barrakka Lift on the site of the original historic lift connects the Upper Barrakka Gardens to the harbour below. There, you can take a boat across to Birgu or cruise around the port to gain different perspectives close up.
And if Valletta appeals to you, be sure to check out also these other amazing things to do in Malta.