One of the most popular places in Malta is definitely its capital Valletta. No matter if you are on a yearly holiday in Malta, for a business trip or on a cruise, this is one of those places which is a must. Here we talk about one of the smallest capital cities and yet one of the best historical cities I’ve ever seen. But let’s start from the beginning.
History that you need to Know
Before Valletta ever existed, the place where it now lays, was only a peninsula with a small fortress called Fort St Elmo. That was in the period before the great siege of Malta. In 1565 that same spot was attacked by the Ottoman force of Sultan Suleiman who tried to invade the island. At that period Malta was protected by the Knights of the Order of St. John. The Knights managed to protect the island, but it left a mark and a big lesson for them. Up to this date this is one of the most important events for the Maltese people. Not long after it, Grand Master La Vallette, who led the island to victory, presented the new city plan. This is the first city built by plan and it was finished after 15 years of building and the, it got its name after its founder, and it is said that it is “a city built by gentlemen for gentlemen”, a masterpiece of the Baroque.
Not to Miss
Once you’ve decided to spend your holiday in Valletta, Malta keep in mind that there really are things that you shouldn’t miss. Start with the walk down by Republic Street. That is the main street in Valletta, and it plays very big part in everyday activities. There is always something going on. Once you enter the Gates of the city, you come to the new build parliament on your right side, right after it comes the old opera house dating from 1866. There are a lot of old baroque style buildings, many shops, cafeterias and restaurants, not to miss the churches. What I really like is the street art present in this city, people doing different things, which simply makes the city joyful.
You may seat end enjoy your coffee, breakfast or lunch in some of the oldest restaurants along the way, and you may be present on some of the ceremonies Maltese people make. Reach the square and observe the changing of the Guards just right in front of the Grand master’s Palace. This Palace was one of the first buildings in the new city and it was the official residence of the knights. Today part of it is a museum, and part of it is the Office of the President of Malta.
At the end of Republic Street you will reach Fort St Elmo, for the tourists it is open only for In Guardia Parade, re-enactment of the event that took place regularly inside this important military fortifications.
Valletta’s Finest Places for Holiday
At about noon don’t miss to go to Upper Barakka Garden. A very beautiful garden that offers a fantastic view of the Grand Harbour Waterfront, and the Three Cities (Vittoriosa, Senglea & Cospicua). Every day at noon the history is brought to life through the Saluting Battery, it is the oldest saluting battery still in operation anywhere in the world and is one of the biggest visitor attractions in Valletta.
Next comes one of the most important buildings in Valletta, the Co-Cathedral of St John. Marvelous designed church, which was constructed between 1573 and 1577, but the real beauty comes in its decorative masterpiece. This is a real piece of art with a museum inside, and its greatest treasure, The Beheading of St. John the Baptist, painted by Caravaggio.
Valletta is simply amazing. It has a lot of things to be done and seen over there. It is living and working city, the administrative, commercial and financial center of the country. During the day this city is very busy, the evenings are good for a dinner in some of the finest restaurants. Walk through Valletta can be like walking back in time. It is European Art City and a World Heritage City. It is under protection of UNESCO and is one of the most concentrated historic areas in the world.
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