Photo credit: Neil Howard
La Valletta, the well-preserved and historic capital of Malta, is entwined with the Knights of Malta. Conversely, these knights were called the SMOM (Sovereign Military Order Of Malta). Malta and Rhodes were at once their base till they were expelled from Rhodes in 1522 and were given the name Malta by Charles V of Spain in 1530, who was likewise the King of Sicily. In 1565, they were besieged and nearly routed, but eventually held off the army of the Ottoman, Suleiman. Nonetheless, their cities were destroyed, and the decision was then made to build a new
city, Valletta on the Xiberras peninsula. The building began in 1566. It was named after the Grand Master of the Knights of St John’ whose name was Jean Parisot de La Valetta. Valletta might be one of the tiniest capitals on an international basis, but it hosts a certain wonderful and charm historic interest to many. La Valletta is entirely walled around as well as plenty of the streets are shut off to cars, making it an ideal location to just crawl around and enjoy. The city was generally built out of limestone and dates back to the 16th century. Valetta is built on a rocky peninsula in the island’s north-east coast with a population of around 6,000. The city is surrounded by a pair of attractive harbors, the Grand Harbor, and Marsamxett harbor. And there’re two official languages spoken and they’re Maltese and English making it very easy for tourists to communicate with the people over there.
What to Visit
Valletta was declared in 1980 as the World Heritage site by UNESCO, and a walk through the historical buildings shows why. The city is mainly Baroque in vogue, although you might see a neo-classical influence in some locations.
Most of the original palaces are now used as government buildings, museums and shops. With many histories of battles won and lost, it’s no wonder La Valletta has some great and exceptionally display of full suits of armor, guns, and some other arms, going back as far as the 15th century. You can discover these at the Grandmaster’s Palace Armory Gallery. For military buffs, there is likewise the Malta Battle Museum situated in the Fort St Elmo, itself a substantial building. This museum covers the Maltese military past history from the 1800’s onwards, which include the World War II. Also having lots of palaces, Valletta has a variety of richly decorated churches. These
include the St Francis of Assisi Church, St Paul’s Anglican Cathedral, and probably the most opulent St. John’s Co-Cathedral. The magnificent Grand Harbor — a visit to Malta isn’t complete without visiting the Grand Harbor, and one of the very best ways to view it is from one of the numerous little water taxis, which you can discover down at the La Valetta waterfront complex. Another fascinating attraction is the National Museum of Fine Arts that is housed among the Valetta’s finest Rococo palaces. It was constructed in the late 1570’s by the Knights of St. John. One more great building is the 1731 Manoel Theater, which is the 3rd oldest theater in Europe that’s still in use. This attractive oval theater can be seen through guided tour. Also, ensure to visit the Upper Barracca Gardens, where you can enjoy beautiful insights of the harbor. La Valetta has a beautiful Baroque layout with narrow winding streets, parapets, and fountains with coats of arms. The city of Valletta is fortified and also has
sewage system and original fresh water, which was made in the 1500’s. Getting around on the Valetta is by car, bus or bicycle. Buses go anywhere on the island, and motorists drive on the left-side of the road. Bicycles can also be hired on the island for a scenic or relaxing ride. In 1980, a film about Popeye was filmed in Malta, when the production of the film constructed a today called “Popeye Village” which became one of the biggest tourist attractions on the island.
Sport and Recreation
In Valletta you can practice all kinds of sports, from the most common ones like basketball, rugby, tennis or climbing to numerous water sports like windsurfing, kitesurfing, water skiing and of course scuba diving. Sailing regattas are held regularly near La Valletta during the summer. One of the most popular activity with locals is horseback riding and there are many races held between October and May or Bocci which is a typical Maltese lawn bowling. There are numerous facilities in Valletta where you can practice your favorite sport during your vacation.
In Valletta you can enjoy Maltese cuisine which is a mix of islanders traditional cuisine and the traditions that were brought on the island by many different civilizations who occupied Malta during the centuries. There are many restaurants that offer traditional dishes and those that offer international food as well. Traditional dishes are
prepared with fish, meat, bread, pasta, bread with rabbit stew, local olives, sun dried tomatoes, pickled vegetables, bean dip. We recommend you to try Fenek (rabbit stew), Lampuki pie (fish pie), Bragioli (Beef olives), Gbejniet (goat or sheep cheese) or Pastizzi (pastry parcel filled with ricotta and mush peas). Best know and delicious desserts are Kannoli, Galletti biscuits, Helwa tat-Tork which is a sugary mixture of crushed and whole almonds and different kinds of semifreddo desserts.
In Valletta there are numerous bars opened till late at night and there are many things that you can do after the sunset. Several cultural events take place especially during the summer in Valletta like Malta Arts Festival, Baroque Festival, International Jazz Festival and the Opera Festival. Many classical music concerts are organized in baroque churches and going to Manoel Theater is always a good option. But also during the summer there are organized several concerts of the most popular international music artists. If you prefer clubs and bars then the best option for you is to go to Paceville which is located just a few kilometers from Valletta. Paceville is a district near the town of St. Julian filled with lounge bars, casinos, clubs and discos and many young people from around the world are attracted to this place because the nightlife in Paceville is extremely exciting.
Some of the main traditional souvenirs that you can buy are Hand blown Maltese glass and in small village TaQuali you can watch the craftsmen at work. Typical Maltese Karozzini which is a miniature of a traditional horse cab. Handmade Lace is also a beautiful souvenir that you can take with you. Handmade Maltese doorknockers are also a very popular souvenir or traditional golden handmade Maltese cross.