It is only fair that I write an article about my home country of Malta, and this year is going to be a hub of events and activities since it is the European Capital of culture for 2018. The opening activities where held between the 14th and 20th of January. Valletta is Malta’s capital built on a small peninsula which is only 1km by 600m. it may be small but it is packed full of sights, when UNESCO named Valletta a world heritage site, it described it as ‘one of the most concentrated historic areas in the world.
It was built in the 16th century by the Knights of St. John and Grand Master La Valette who is it’s founder wanted it to be ‘a city built by gentlemen for gentlemen’.
Here's a list of the top sights and activities you should visit when going to Valletta:
1. Grand Masters Palace
The Grand Masters Palace is situated right in the center of Valletta, as you walk down the main street from the city gate you will find yourself in one last big square which is the home to the Grand Masters palace. It has been the administrative center of Malta for almost three and a half centuries. The original palace was built in 1571 and was the seat of the Grand Master of the Knights Hospitalliers of St. John. Later when Malta was a British colony it served as the Governors palace. It was later home to the house of representatives until the building of the new parliament which was situated first in the Tapestry chamber between 1921 to 1976 and later the former armory which was converted into a new parliament and was used from 1976 until the 4th May 2015, when the house of representatives was moved into the new parliament building.
Now you can visit the Grand Master’s palace state rooms, the palace armory and the grand tapestries and frescos. Follow this link for more information and how to purchase tickets: CLICK HERE
2. St John's Co-Cathedral
The St. John’s Co-Cathedral was built by the Order of St. John in 1572. In the Cathedral’s museum one can see the famous painting depicting the be-heading of St. John the Baptist which was drawn by Caravaggio in 1608. This considered as one of Caravaggio’s masterpieces, it’s the largest canvas he painted and also the only painting he signed. The interior of the Co-Cathedral was re-designed by another famous Italian artist Mattia Preti in the 17th Century, and un-arguably it’s the most beautiful church interior found on the island.
3. Triton Fountain, City Gate and Parliament Building
The entrance to Valletta has been recently renovated and re-designed by the known Italian architect Renzo Piano. Now walking in through the main entrance to the City has become more attractive then it has ever been before. It's a place that cannot be missed as nearly all public buses start and end their journey here as the main bus station is situated a few meters away from the Triton Fountain.
4. Barrakka Gardens and Saluting battery
The Upper Barakka Gardens overlook the Grand Harbour. From their terrace they afford one of the most beautiful panoramic views in Malta as they command a unique view of one of the most beautiful natural harbour's in the Mediterranean with the Three Cities as its backdrop.
The saluting battery is found in the gardens directly beneath the top tier of the main garden. At noon everyday the guns are fired to mark the passage of midday.
5. Malta Experience
The Malta experience is a audio-visual show where you can experience and learn about the rich Maltese history going back thousands of years. Situated in the heart of Valletta it is ideal for those who are interested in history.
You can visit the official website for more information and to buy tickets by following this link:
6. Manuel Theater
Undoubtedly the most beautiful theater in Malta, and famous for the December pantomime, if you are in Malta between December and January it is a must to visit this beautiful theater. During the rest of the year there are many concerts, operas and orchestras performed here not only by Maltese artists and orchestras but also by famous European orchestras and artists.
7. Lascaris war rooms
This World War II underground complex housed the British command in Malta, and remained in use until 1977. Now a war museum featuring wax work figures and other interesting items and information. You can visit their website by following this link: https://www.lascariswarrooms.com
8. Suq il-Belt - City Market
Recently renovated from the sorry state it was in, this is now the hottest place to grab something to eat when visiting Valletta. With a supermarket selling Maltese produce and other traditional Maltese food and drink downstairs and a selection of restaurants organized with a main dinning area, this is certainly one of the best places to stop by and eat lunch or a snack.
9. Fort St. Elmo
Fort St Elmo is a star shaped fort at the tip of the Valletta peninsula. It is also the home of the National War Museum which houses a superb collection of items dating back to prehistoric times until the second world war era. Apart from the museum walking around and under the grand bastions and up to the break water at the end of the Grand Harbour will certainly not fail to entertain you.
10. Valletta Waterfront
The Valletta Waterfront is a promenade full of restaurants, bars, colorful windows and boutique café’s. The buildings where originally store and warehouses but it was later developed. This is also where all cruise liners make their stop as the Forni cruise terminal is also situated here. I suggest visiting in the evening when the promenade is full of life and live music (in summer), where you can enjoy a nice dinner with the view of the magnificent grand harbor as a back drop.