For its size, Malta is a real treasure trove of culture and heritage. Its awe inspiring fortifications as well as its majestic palaces and churches, all contribute to make Malta a nation of rich and pleasant surprises. The coastline is surrounded with harbours, creeks, sandy beaches and rocky coves. The following are some of the most interesting and historical places in Malta and Gozo;
Valletta, Malta’s Capital City
The Fortress City, ‘Citta’ Umilissima’, “a city built by gentlemen for gentlemen”. Valletta, the capital city of Malta was built by Grand Master Jean de la Vallette after the Great Siege of 1565. 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. Valletta is also a living, working city; the administrative and commercial heart of the Islands. The grids of the narrow streets house some of Europe’s finest art works, churches and palaces.
It dominates the island’s Grand Harbour, one of the finest natural ports in Europe and within the boundaries one can appreciate some of Malta’s rich heritage of archaeology, history, architecture, art and culture. One can also visit St John’s Cathedral, the Grand Master’s Palace and Fort St Elmo.
The Malta Experience
The Malta Experience is located next to fort St. Elmo and across the road from the Mediterranean Conference Centre (formerly the Sacra Infermeria). The Malta Experience is an ideal introduction to the Maltese Islands. Sit back and enjoy a 45 minute multi vision show, which depicts Malta’s history through the ages.
Mdina, Malta’s Old Capital City
Mdina, the old capital city of Malta, is a typical medieval town in the centre of the island. It’s cathedral dome and bastion walls are visible from almost everywhere in the region. It was home then, as now, to Malta’s noble families; some are descendants of the Norman, Sicilian and Spanish overlords who made Mdina their home from the 12th century onwards. Impressive palaces line its narrow, shady streets.
Mdina is one of Europe’s finest examples of an ancient walled city, and unusual in it’s mix of medieval and baroque architecture. Beyond the walls, lies Rabat, a large town of Roman origin. It houses fascinating grottos, monasteries and churches. St Paul is said to have stayed in a cave here in A.D.60. Both Mdina and Rabat are characterized by their timeless atmosphere and cultural and religious treasures.
St Paul’s Catacombs
The Maltese Islands are rich in Late Roman and Byzantine burial sites. St Paul’s Catacombs are a typical complex of interconnected, underground Roman cemeteries that were in use up to the 4th century AD. They are located on the outskirts of the old Roman capital of Mdina. St Paul’s Catacombs represent the earliest archaeological evidence of Christianity in Malta.
They have been called after St Paul because of their vicinity to St Paul’s church and grotto.
Hagar Qim Temples
The Neolithic Temples of Hagar Qim, were originally built around 2700 BC, although they underwent several modifications during the same period. These Megalithic temples are adorned with sacrificial altars and oracular chambers.
Blue Grotto Caves
Just past Wied iz- Zurrieq, one can take a ride in a typical Maltese fishing boat and enjoy the picturesque Blue Grotto, the underwater flora and neighbouring sea caves.
The Three Cities
The three cities namely Senglea, Vittoriosa and Cospicua offer an intriguing insight into Malta and its history.
The three cities can rightly claim to be the cradle of Maltese history. Vittoriosa and Senglea on rocky promontories jutting into Grand Harbour, and Cospicua at the end of the creek between, have provided a home and fortress to almost every people who settled here.
The sister Island of Gozo, is just a half hour ferry ride from the northernmost tip of Malta, and is the perfect place if you want to get away from it all. The charm of Gozo is apparent the moment you arrive there.
Greener, more rural and smaller than Malta, life in Gozo moves at a leisurely pace. Gozo comes complete with historical sites, forts and amazing panoramas, plus one of the archipelago’s best-preserved prehistoric temples Ggantija.