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Exploring Beautiful Valletta

Updated: Jun 18, 2021

A city built by gentlemen for gentlemen

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.

Built in 1566, the City of Valletta hosts impressive bastions, forts and a cathedral. 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.

The Capital is nothing short of an open-air museum. It is a living experience of Baroque architecture, a monument donated by the Knights of St John nearly five centuries ago.

It is renowned as an extraordinary density of sights and activities: from 5,000-year-old 'Fat Lady' statues, to the ornate Baroque legacy of the Knights of St John; from Bastion-top gardens to boat trips on the Grand Harbour.

This post will give an overview about few of the numerous attractions the city has to offer.

Upper Barrakka Gardens

These gardens are ideal spots for you to just sit back with a cup of coffee and snack and take a quick break.

Perched atop the Grand Harbour, these colonnaded gardens were created in 1661, and were actually used as ‘private gardens’ for the Knights of the langue

of Italy. The Upper Barrakka gardens host the most impressive views the islands have to offer, as they host an unhindered, panoramic view the only natural harbour in the Mediterranean, with the three cities making up the Cottonera region, namely Birgu, Senglea and Cospicua.

Directly below the main terrace one finds the Saluting Battery, where a cannon once fired salutes to visiting naval vessels.

Lower Barrakka Gardens

The Lower Barrakka Gardens are perched atop the Valletta bastions. Similar to the Upper Barrakka Gardens, these are positioned to observe the mouth of Grand Harbour and allowing ships entering the city through the grand harbour.

Fort St Elmo

On the other end of Valletta, one finds Fort St Elmo, offering unobstructed panoramic views of the harbours and the surrounding towns and villages. The fort also hosts the National War Museum which houses an exceptional collection of artefacts that go back to prehistoric times.

Visitors at Fort St Elmo are able to experience the impressive grounds of the fort, which includes splendid architecture, and two chapels dedicated to St Anne.

St John’s Co-Cathedral

A stay in Malta‘s capital is not complete without visiting St John’s Co-Cathedral Malta. The Cathedral is considered to be one of the most important landmarks for those seeking arts and culture in Valletta. In fact, it can be described as the gem of the city, a fascination that draws visitors to Valletta time and time again. Amongst the many impressive Baroque frescos, ornate marble floors, three-dimensional statues, carved stone walls and breath-taking vaulted ceilings decorated by the well-known Italian Baroque artist Mattia Preti, the Co-Cathedral is also home to one of the most internationally recognised works by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, known as ‘The Beheading of St John the Baptist’ (1608).

The Grand Master’s Palace

Officially referred to as ‘The Palace’, the Grandmaster’s palace houses the Office of the President of the Republic of Malta. The palace, was one of the first buildings to be built in Valletta, and was originally designed by Gelormu Cassar.

Decorated with Gobelins tapestries featuring tropical scenes set in South America, the Caribbean, India and Africa woven in France which are more than 300 years old.

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