Valletta, The Fortress City, Citta' Umilissima, "a city built by gentlemen for gentlemen" is Malta's capital city: a living, working city, the administrative and commercial heart of the Islands. Valletta is named after its founder, the respected Grand Master of the Order of St. John, Jean Parisot de la Valette. The magnificent fortress city grew on the arid rock of Mount Sceberras peninsula, which rises steeply from two deep harbours, Marsamxett and Grand Harbour. Started in 1566, Valletta was completed, with its impressive bastions, forts and cathedral, in the astonishingly short time of 15 years, even more remarkable is considering the fact that mechanical tools did not exist at the time and the whole city was built entirely by hand.
Valletta has many titles, all recalling its rich historical past. It is the "modern" city built by the Knights of St John; a masterpiece of the Baroque; a European Art City and a World Heritage City. Today, it is one of the most concentrated historic areas in the world.
The city is busy by day, yet retains a timeless atmosphere by night, that gives the feeling that you are walking back in time. The grid of narrow streets boasts some of Europe's finest art works, churches and palaces.
Valletta is abundantly rich in sites to see and explore, intriguing historical buildings around every corner: votive statues, niches, fountains and coats of arms high up on parapets. Narrow side streets are full of tiny quaint shops and cafés, while Valletta's main streets are lined with larger international branded shops for fashion, music, jewellery and much more.
The best way to get around and see the most, from your visit to Valletta, is on foot and although the things to do & see are many, a good start and definitely not to be missed are Valletta's beautiful gardens. The Upper Barrakka Gardens, Hastings Gardens & the Lower Barrakka Gardens are just three of the most popular ones, however on further exploration many more hidden gardens can be discovered. From the Upper Barrakka Gardens it is also possible to see the Saluting Battery as well as take the lift down the bastions to sea level.
St John's co-Cathedral & museum are definitely not to be missed, this elaborately adorned church is home to world famous artistic masterpieces by Caravaggio and Mattia Preti. Apart from beautiful Baroque churches other places of interest include the various grandmaster auberges, piazzas & museums. To find out more hot spots to visit, download our Valletta PDF map.