Valletta, the capital city of Malta, is a mixture of culture and commerce. There are many small chapels and a vast amount of cathedrals, museums, galleries and public gardens within the walls and fortifications bordering the city. There is a street market every morning and one can also attend several of the sound and vision shows illustrating all aspects of Malta’s history.
In spite of its small size, less than 2 kilo metres at its longest point, Valletta can easily take the best part of two days to visit. It is designated a World Heritage Site in its entirety and is home to some of Malta's best historical sights. The city's main sights are found around the main thoroughfare, pedestrianised Republic Street, which runs along the length of the city, from City Gate to Fort St Elmo.
In Republic Street, the first fine building is the National Museum of Archaeology, repository of Malta's fascinating archaeological artefacts, among the most artistic Neolithic relics found in the world. Further down to the right, and just off Republic Street is the remarkable St John's Co-Cathedral, the former conventual church of the Knights and one of the most ornate baroque churches of the world, home to Caravaggio's masterpiece 'the Beheading of St John the Baptist'. It was one of the first buildings erected in Valletta, in the 1570s, but continued to be embellished throughout the rule of the Knights. It now stands as a testament to the Knights' wealth and culture.
A large square halfway down Republic Street is full of outdoor tables of cafes (a great place for people- watching) that somehow detract from the monumentality of the facade of the National library, the last public building erected by the Knights before they ceded Malta to Napoleon Bonaparte. Adjoining the library is the majestic Grand Master's Palace Malta's centre of rule since 1571, today housing Parliament, known as the House of Representatives and the President's office -where the State Rooms, rich in elaborate frescoes, fine paintings, elegant furniture and other works of art acquired by the Knights, are open to public viewing. Republic Street ends outside the gate of Fort St Elmo, famous for the frontline role it played in the Great Siege of 1565 and in World War II, but open only for captivating re-enactments that are held on most Sundays at 11am between the end of September and early July, As befits a city of the Knights in one of the world's most Catholic countries, Valletta holds more than a dozen churches, If there is no time to visit them all, make sure to visit the Co-Cathedral, the ornately baroque St Paul's Shipwreck Church in St Paul Street and the unusually spartan Jesuits Church in Merchants Street, all conveniently situated along the narrow streets at the town's western flank, with hole-in-the-wall shops at street level and residences with enclosed wooden balconies on upper floors.
Valletta is also the seat of the most important national museums. Foremost among them are the two national galleries -the National Museum of Fine Arts where some excellent old paintings are exhibited and St James Cavalier Centre for Creativity, the national gallery for contemporary art, where frequent exhibitions are held, well-produced plays and operas are staged and European films are shown.
The story of World War II is told in two museums: Lascaris War Rooms, the former underground nerve centre for the Malta war theatre, reconstructed with period props and wax dummies, and the War Museum, which displays a range of armaments as well as war documents that provide an absorbing insight into the savagery of the war in Malta, an island that suffered the most intense aerial bombardment in the history of warfare.
Do not fail to visit Valletta's two eminent public gardens, loftily set on the ramparts of the city. Hastings Garden, that has just been relandscaped, offers a fine view of Marsamxett Harbour as well as large swathes of Malta. The recently upgraded Upper Barrakka Gardens overlook one of Malta's best natural assets, the splendid Grand Harbour, with the medieval Three Cities, Senglea, Vittoriosa and Cospicua, in the background. Beneath the Upper Barrakka Gardens, a stroll along the Valletta Waterfront reveals the beauty of the restored Pinto Stores, many of which today house restaurants, bars and shops offering an ideal spot to break off the day and enjoy the outstanding view of the historic Fort St Angelo that rises majestically from the waters of Grand Harbour.
This year has seen some positive developments. The government recently introduced a park and ride scheme aimed at reducing traffic in Valletta whereby drivers are encouraged to leave their cars in a massive car park outside Valletta and enter the city via an efficient mini-van service. The government is seeking to enhance the appreciation of the city and has pedestrianised more roads and relocated the market that was previously in the upper part of Merchants Street. After some initial resistance, the new plans seem to be generally appreciated and Valletta seems to be breathing again.
Unusual for a capital city, Valletta's nightlife is limited to a few bars, and the streets, so full of shoppers and office workers during the day, become deserted after dark. For an evening drink and nibble, head to Jubilee, Trabuxu or the newly open trendy 2 22 set within the bastions. Dining in Valletta is a treat as the city is home to a number of high quality
The foundation stone of Valletta was laid by the Grandmaster of the order of Saint John, Jean Parisot de La Valette, on the 28th March 1566; the order decided to found a new city on the Xiberras Peninsula, just after the end of the Siege of Malta in 1565, so as the fortify the order’s position in Malta, effectively binding the Knights to the island. The city was designed by Francesco Laparelli, while many of the most important were built by Gerolamo Cassar. Valletta, hence, is an urban area which boast many buildings from the 16th century and onwards, but most of them where built during the time of the Knights of St.John of Jerusalem.
There are prominent high walls that surround the city as a means of defence. The different sections of the bastions are named after Saints St Michael's Bastion, St Salvatore Bastion, St Sebastian Bastion, St Barbara Bastion, and so on. These high fortifications house various secret passages, some still in use. These high walls are further strengthened with other fortifications just outside Valletta, floriana and Pieta.
The capital city was built by Jean de La Valette, (a French grand master) after the epic siege of 1565. The city is surrounded by high fortifications and overlooks the principal harbour of the island known as the Grand Harbour on one side and Marsamxett Harbour on the other. Within the bastions of Valletta is housed most of Malta's rich heritage of history, art, archaeology, architecture, and culture.
Valletta: After the knights and the brief Franch interlude, the next building boom in Valletta occurred during the British rule.Gates were widened and civic projects installate: However the whole city and its infrastructure were damaged by are raeds in world war II , notably loseng its majestik opera house constructed at the city and rance in the 19 th century.
In ancient times Valletta was not the capital city. It is surrounded by the sea . It has many historic plces. It was built by the Knights of those days . Valletta is known because of the Grand Harbour . The centre of Valletta attracts a lot of tourists because there is the market and a lot of shops . The bus terminus is also in Valletta. It was built on the slope of ‘Xiber ir-ras’, in fact in the map it is form of a slope. It was named after the grand master La Vallette . Valletta has the most numbers of churches in Malta, and we also celebrate a lot of feasts . There are not much hotels, just the Grand Harbour Hotel and the British Hotel, but we have many restaurants.
The first stone of Valletta was put by the Grandmaster La Vallette and that is why Valletta took his name. The designer was Franceso Laparelli and he wanted to build the streets all straight and also at 90 degrees.
Valletta has two big harbours, Marsamxett harbour and the Grand harbour which are used a lot till today. Valletta has twenty- two churches and the most important is St. John’s co-cathedral. Valletta has the most important buildings like the Par lament, the Prime-Ministers office, two public gardens and most of the Goverments offices , besides a lot of shops , coffee shops and restaurants , infact it attracts a lot of tourists.
Valletta has also a football club which is called Valletta F.C. and the Patron Saint is St Paul and the feast is on the 10th February .Valletta has a population of 6,315 and the major is Dr. Borg Oliver.
The Valletta peninsula, which is fed by the two natural harbours of Marsamxett and the Grand Harbour, is Malta's major port, with unloading quays at Marsa; a cruise-liner terminal has been built recently in the Grand Harbour, along the old sea-wall of the duty free stores built by Grandmaster Fra Manuel Pinto de Fonseca.
At a glance
To visit a city that holds an interesting sight at every step.
St John's Co- Cathedral, a drink in one of the open piazzas and the great 3600 views.
BLINK AND YOU'LL MISS
The beautiful balconies and stonework on the faGades -keep looking up while walking but not for too long as the pavements are far from smooth.
WHAT CAN I GET?
All sorts of souvenirs -lace, mouth-blown glass. silver and gold Maltese crosses, door handles, books and why not, a miniature of your favourite form of transport -bus, boat or horse-drawn cab.