HOMEPAGE » About Valletta
  • Valletta

    Valletta is the capital of Malta and it was built by the Knights Hospitaller after the siege of 1565 in order to strengthen the order's position on the island. It is a complex grid of Baroque, Mannerist, Neo-Classical and Modern architecture with two natural harbours and a cruise-liner terminal. Valletta is the cultural hub of the island, and although there are many artistic, architectural and archaeological gems scattered all over the island, Valletta contains within its walkable parameters a great number of churches, palaces, museums and parks. British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli once described Valletta as 'a city of palaces built by gentlemen for gentlemen' and compared it to Venice and Cadiz. Today Valletta is a city for everyone.

    I was attracted to Valletta because I find the juxtaposition of old and new to be truly incredible. When the restoration works on the capital took off, I began to see its beauty and elegance emerge out of centuries of being hidden under layers of weather and environmental deposit, I could see how Valletta must have looked to the people who saw it when it was built. I could then understand why the best architects and the best stone masons were employed for the project of the city. In addition, the installation of contemporary architectonic features attracted me to the capital and I began to see the possibility of moving here to live.

    Valletta is a marvelous experience for any person living here or just visiting. One could either sit back and relax in one of the many piazzas at a restaurant, a cafe or a wine bar or one could have a hectic few days trying to comb the entire city to not miss out any of the detail. There is certainly lots for either type of visitor, from very vibrant, modern and trendy cafeterias, bars and restaurants, especially in the revamped district of Strait street, to fine dining restaurants with budding or established chefs, galleries housing the work of noted or emerging artists, museums that tell the narrative of the island from the dawn of prehistory, religious spaces that house world-famous artworks by great artists like Caravaggio and Mattia Preti to shops selling a range of goods from exclusive and luxury brands to affordable locally crafted items.

    With Valletta being named the cultural capital for 2018, there is certainly plenty of drive and ambition to keep the number of events and their standard on the ascendant. Today, Valletta attracts young and old alike, and visitors will not get the feeling they are in a fossilised museum city but rather in a place inhabited by the increasingly cosmopolitan local population, where, as has always been the case, elements of different cultures meet to create what is truly and uniquely Maltese. In fact, Valletta is the location where activities such as carnival, local feasts celebrating the patron saints, fireworks festivals, wine festivals and boat races can be best enjoyed.

    To me Valletta can best be described as the nexus of highbrow and lowbrow, of great cultural sites and events which are followed by drinks or a meal at one of the trendy local bistros or the revamped red light district. Even though I live here, I am always astounded by the overwhelming number of artworks or cultural events that one could see and attend, and always amazed at the variety and quality of food being offered in the restaurants that line the piazzas or found tucked in one of the narrow streets away from the crowded centres. It also a place of memories, of past traditions which are kept very much alive by the local lifestyle. Such echoes take me back to my childhood as my mother's family used to live in one of the palazzos here; it is interesting to note that these memories are also accessible to the the many visitors I have brought with me to Valletta, for whom the local flavor and traditions stand out in relief like an exquisitely crafted work of art.

  • St. John's Co-Cathedral

    Don't be fooled by the severe and austere facade of this conventual church of the Order of the Knights of St. John's as the interior of this Baroque structure is indeed very ornate. The great vaulted ceiling was painted by Mattia Preti and it houses two world famous works of art by Caravaggio (The Beheading of St John the Baptist and St Jerome) as well as works by Giuseppe Mazzuoli and Alessandro Algardi. An outstanding feature of this church are the marble tombstones in the nave marking the burial of important knights.
    The co-Cathedral also has its own adjoining museum, where visitors can see the stunning tapestries of Grandmaster Fra Ramon Perellos de Roccaful.

  • The Grandmaster's Palace

    This is a fine example of 16th Century Hospitaller architecture and visitors can access the Armoury, which showcases one of the largest collections of weapons dating back to the period of the knights, and the Throne Room, where Grandmasters received high ranking diplomats and ambassadors.
    The Auberge now houses the Office of the President of Malta and the House of Representatives. My personal favorites are the wall paintings be Mattia Perez d'Aleccio.

  • National Museum of Archaeology

    This is by far the best place to see the material culture that has been excavated from the major archaeological sites studding the island.
    My own personal highlights are the Red Skorba ornaments, the Sleeping Lady from the temple period and the Phoenician rooms with the famous Cippus which aided in the decipherment of Phoenician-Punic. The earliest artifacts date back to 5200, an indication of the occupation of the island even in deep antiquity.

  • National Museum of Art

    This Rococo-style palace located in South Street houses a wonderful collection of Mattia Preti paintings as well as works by artists such as Guido Reni, Giuseppe Ribera and the Maltese Melchiorre Gaf and Antonio Sciortino. One of my favorite pieces at this museum is Joseph Mallord William Turner's Grand Harbour of Malta.

  • Casa Rocca Piccola

    Best described as a 'living museum', this wonderful 16th century palace is the home of the noble de Piro family and the only privately owned palace open to the public.
    Main attractions are the winter and summer dining rooms, the private chapel, and the archive of family documents.

  • The National Library

    Otherwise known as the Bibliotecha, this elegant structure houses the oldest known document in Malta (1107) as well as 60 incunabula, the original George Cross letter, 14th century illuminated manuscripts as well as maps and plans from the 16th to the 20th century.

  • The Manoel Theatre

    This is a Grade 1 listed building and one of the most important venues from the performing arts on the island. It harks back to 1731 and is the third oldest working theatre in Europe.
    Most of the original architectural features remain in place.

  • The Valletta Waterfront

    A gem of Baroque architecture, the Valletta Waterfront consists of nineteen warehouses stretching the length of the water's edge and the Quay Wall, now transformed into a hub for retail and leisure. A great place to dine or for a bottle of wine to usher in the evening.

  • Auberge De Castille

    Built in 1571 by the Maltese architect Girolamo Cassar, this Auberge was, in its time, regarded as truly innovative. Today this structure still stands out and since 1972 it has yoused the Office of the Prime Minister. It is a stone's throw from Lloyd House.

  • Upper Barrakka Gardens

    Opposite Lloyd House, Upper Barrakka is Valletta's most beautiful garden and offers a magnificent panoramic view of the Grand Harbour and the old cities of Vittoriosa, Senglea and Cospicua across the water.
    The gardens house a number of statues and sculptures and is frequently described as 'quintessentially Valletta'.

  • National War Museum

    Located in Fort St. Elmo, the National War Museum is one of the most popular venues with tourists. It houses the George Cross as well a substantial display of World War I and World War II military items.

  • The Malta Experience Show

    This audio-visual shows tells the dramatic 7000 year history of the Maltese Islands. Most people, even locals, think it is a good starting point to contextualise the island's magnificent landmarks.