Touring Through Valletta, Malta

Whether it’s history, music, culture, or perhaps just an idyllic beach holiday, Valletta is an affordable city to visit. Like Rhodes, where you walk the cobblestone streets and narrowing alleys in a juxtaposition of history and modern life, Valletta can be both striking and eerie. One man, so convinced it was haunted, proceeded to write his own ‘ghost tours’ in a story published online.

Why Is Valletta, Malta, Famous?

The history of Valletta, the historic and well preserved capitol of Malta, is entwined with that of the Knights of Malta. Alternatively these knights were called the Sovereign Military Order Of Malta (SMOM), and officially called the Sovereign Military Hopsitaller Order Of St. John Of Jerusalem, Of Rhodes And Of Malta because Rhodes and Malta were at one time their base. They were expelled from Rhodes in 1522, and were given Malta in 1530 by Charles V of Spain, who was also King of Sicily.

In 1565 they were besieged, and nearly routed, but eventually held off the army of the Ottoman, Suleiman. However, their cities were destroyed, and the decision was made to build a new city, Valletta, on they Xiberras peninsula. Building began in 1566. It was named after their ‘Grand Master’ who had held off the invaders during the siege.

Accommodation In Valletta

There are a range of hotels in Valletta. You can even find some bargains overlooking the Grand Harbor from 35 euros per night. There is actually cheaper accommodation to suit the more budget conscious – whilst not as close to the town center, prices start from only 11 euros.

Of course, there are more luxurious properties, quite reasonably priced – four star hotels priced from 48 euros, 5 star hotels anywhere from 63 euros, and nice boutique hotels from 75 euros. You can even stay in one of the palaces built by the Knights of Malta from 44 euros, although the rooms look rather plain.

Sightseeing in Valletta

Valletta was declared a World Heritage site in 1980 by UNESCO, and a walk through the historic buildings shows why. The city is mostly Baroque in style, although you can see a neo-classical influence in some areas. Many of the original palaces are now used variously as government buildings, shops, and museums. For example, the Magisterial Palace of the Grandmaster is where parliament currently sits. It is open to the public when not in session. And the Auberge de Castille is now the home of the Maltese Prime Minister. One rather beautiful resiendece is the Casa Rocca Piccola, which is one of the few palaces still used as a home by members of the Maltese nobility. It is also open to the public, and is in good condition.

With such a history of battles lost and won, it is no wonder Valletta has some great displays of full suits of armor, guns and other arms, going as far back as the 15th century. You can find these at the Grandmaster’s Palace Armoury Museum. Some of the contents of the armory were taken to the UK in the 1850’s, however, the collection is still impressive.

For military buffs, there is also the Malta War Museum in the Fort Saint Elmo, itself a significant building. This museum covers Maltese military history from the 1800’s onwards, including World War II.

As well as having many palaces, Valletta has a number of richly decorated churches. These include the St Paul’s Anglican Cathedral, the St Francis of Assisi Church, and probably the most opulent, St. John’s Co-Cathedral.

Valletta has had many famous, historical visitors in its’ lifetime, and the beautiful harbors provide a scenic backdrop with which to explore its’ rich heritage.

Mary J. Gibson

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