Whether you’re wanting a city break alone, with friends or a romantic trip with your partner, Valletta – the capital of Malta – has something to offer. Due to its Mediterranean location, whatever time of the year you visit, the sun is likely to be beating down on you as you sightsee; Valletta was recently revealed to be the sunniest city in Europe. Valletta is inextricably linked to the history of the Knights of St John of Jerusalem. The magnificent fortress city grew on the arid rock of Mount Sciberras peninsula, which rises steeply from two deep harbours – Marsamxett and Grand Harbour – was commissioned by Grand Master Jean de La Valette in 1566 and completed in just 15 years.
With its 320 monuments in just 55 hectares, Valletta is the most concentrated historic area in the world. Described as an open-air museum, intriguing historical buildings are on every corner of Valletta, with votive statues, niches, fountains and coats of arms high up on parapets. The magnificent fortress city grew on the arid rock of Mount Sciberras peninsula, which rises steeply from two deep harbours, Marsamxett and Grand Harbour. Not surprisingly, Valletta is one of Malta’s three UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Valletta has been selected by the European Commission as the 2018 European Capital of Culture. To learn more about the events taking place in 2017 and 2018 to commemorate this accolade click here.
The grid of narrow streets boasts some of Europe’s finest artworks, churches, palaces, grandmaster auberges, piazzas and museums. The warm Mediterranean city is busy by day, yet retains a timeless atmosphere by night through the stunning architecture that surrounds you. 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.
There are lots of beautiful boutique hotels within the city that cater for all price ranges, and a couple of bigger hotels on the outskirts of the city. Malta is so small, nowhere is more than 30 minutes from Valletta by car.
The best way to get around Valletta and see the most is on foot and Valletta’s beautiful gardens are the perfect places to start. The Upper Barrakka Gardens, Hastings Gardens & the Lower Barrakka Gardens are just three of the most popular ones. From the Upper Barrakka Gardens, it is also possible to see the Saluting Battery and take the lift down the bastions to sea level.
St John’s Co-Cathedral and museum are definitely not to be missed. The jaw-dropping interior elaborately adorned by Mattia Preti is widely considered to be the best example of baroque style anywhere in Europe. The magnificent Cathedral is also home to the only signed work and largest painting by Caravaggio.
The Valletta Commonwealth Walkway was inaugurated by HM Queen Elizabeth II and Minister for Tourism Dr Edward Zammit Lewis on the 28th of November 2015 to mark the beginning of a walk linking significant sites of heritage and culture in the city. It was launched during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting held in Malta in 2015.
Other Valletta highlights include:
- Auberge de Castille et Leon – formerly the official seat of the Knights of Malta – and now the office of the Prime Minister of Malta.
- The Magisterial Palace – built 1574 and formerly the seat of the Grand Master of the Knights of Malta and used to house the Maltese Parliament, and now houses the offices of the President of Malta.
- The National Museum of Fine Arts – a Rococo palace dating back to the late 1570s, served as the official residence of the Commander-in-Chief of the Mediterranean Fleet during the British era from the 1820s onwards.
- The Manoel Theatre – constructed in just ten months in 1731 and is one of the oldest working theatres in Europe.
- The Mediterranean Conference Centre – built in 1574 and was one of Europe’s most renowned hospitals during the Renaissance.
- Marsamxett Harbour and the Grand Harbour can be enjoyed on foot or on boat tours. The fortifications of the port – built by the Knights as a magnificent series of bastions, demi-bastions, cavaliers and curtains – are approximately 100 metres high and contribute to the unique architectural quality of the city.
- The Sacra Infermeria – the Knights’ former hospital with Europe’s longest corridor.
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