Malta’s 16th century walled capital of Valletta, with its Grand Harbour, is a treasure-chest bristling with Baroque architecture. This most scenic of ancient ports echoes the epic, heroic history of the tiny island it nestles on.
Centuries of invasion and siege have brought the influence of Romans, Phoenicians, Greeks, Arabs, Normans, Crusaders and the British – all leaving an enduring mark on Valletta’s cultural heritage. Home to The Knights of Malta, an order created in the Middle Ages, the town is known for museums, palaces and grand churches.
Baroque landmarks include the ornate St. John’s Co-Cathedral; its opulent interior is crowned by Caravaggio’s masterpiece "The Beheading of Saint John." Other noteworthy attractions include the National Museum of Archaeology, the 16th century Casa Rocca Piccola Palace and the military artefacts in the National War Museum.
The cityscape is probably one of the most stunning in the Mediterranean – the city’s sun-drenched stone walls have an almost permanent warm, honey hue, while colourful, decorative balconies overlook the worn and tethered streets below. Fine restaurants and shops leap out from side streets or are tucked away in charming courtyards.
Valletta is also well-situated to discover the silent city of Mdina, a fortified city in the Northern Region of Malta and home to the Roman burial complex of St. Paul’s Catacombs.
No visit to Malta would be complete without exploring the medieval city of Mdina. Also known as, the Silent City, Mdina is the old capital of Malta and is one of Europe’s finest examples of an ancient walled city.
St John’s Co-Cathedral & Knights of St John
One of Malta’s greatest treasures, St John’s Co-Cathedral, was commissioned in 1572 by Grand Master Jean de la Cassière as a church for the Knights of St John. Sir Walter Scott called the Baroque interior the most striking he had ever seen.
Malta was one of the most heavily bombed sites during World War 2 and was later awarded the George Cross by King George VI for the country’s bravery. Highlights in
Valletta include the remains of the bombed Opera House, the National War Museum and the Lascaris War Rooms, which host an underground network of tunnels used as
shelters during the war.