Valletta, the capital city of Malta, has often been regarded as the Baroque Capital par excellence. European Capital for Culture in 2018, the city has also hosted numerous prestigious international events, among them the EU Presidency in 2017. Valletta is a UNESCO Cultural World Heritage Site. Visitors can admire the beautiful architecture of the Baroque palaces and churches, while discovering more about the interesting history of the city through its various museums and attractions. The city owes its creation to the Knights of the Order of St John who came to Malta in the 16th century. From their time, Valletta remained the main administrative and commercial centre of Malta, housing the Parliament Buildings, the offices of the President of the Republic and the Prime-Minister, as well as the majority of Government Ministries.
The Upper Barrakka garden offers amazing views of the Grand Harbour and the Three Cities. The Lower Barrakka gardens is situated at the lower end of Valletta on the bastions overlooking the entrance to the Grand Harbour. The garden overlooks the break water, Fort Ricasoli, Rinella, Kalkara, the original Bighi Hospital, among others details in the Grand Harbour. Hastings Gardens is a public garden located on top of St. John's and St. Michael's Bastions, offerin views of Floriana, Msida, Sliema, Marsamxett Harbour and its yacht marinas.
FORT ST. ELMO (NATIONAL WAR MUSEUM) Visitors at Fort St Elmo can enjoy a twofold experience. Originally intended as a war machine, the fort was built in a strategic location to face and hold back the menacing Ottoman attacks. This dominating position now offers unobstructed panoramic views of the harbours and the surrounding towns and villages. The fort also hosts the National War Museum which houses a superb collection of artefacts.Visitors at Fort St Elmo can experience the impressive grounds of the fort, including the splendid architecture of the two chapels dedicated to St Anne. Among the most notable artefacts in the Museum, one finds: military armour of the Order of St John and the Ottoman Turks, the Gloster Sea Gladiator N5520 FAITH, Roosevelt’s Jeep ‘Husky’, and Malta’s award for gallantry, the George Cross.
MALTA POSTAL MUSEUM The Malta Postal Museum is home to an extensive collection of postal artefacts related to Malta’s long and colourful history. Spread over four floors, the museum explores centuries of postal history starting way back in the 16th century during the time of the Order of St. John in Malta. The collection not only marks historic milestones but also tells the stories of the numerous individuals who played a part in the development of Malta’s communication. The building was designed and equipped to handle the needs of visitors with special mobility requirements and our museum has a lift to all floors. The building is fully air-conditioned. Website: https://www.maltapostalmuseum.com/
MUŻA: MUŻA is the chosen name for Malta’s new museum of art and flagship project for Valletta’s European Capital City of Culture Title in 2018. The project is a national-community art museum, the first of its kind, being developed in a historic site within the Capital City of Valletta; a UNESCO World Heritage Site built as a city-fortress. Website: https://muza.heritagemalta.org/
NATIONAL MUSEUM OF ARCHAEOLOGY Housed at the Auberge de Provence, in Republic Street, Valletta, the National Museum of Archaeology is renowned as one of the most elaborately decorated Baroque buildings in the city. A visit to this museum offers a spectacular range of artefacts which date back to Malta’s Neolithic Period (5000 BC) up to the Phoenician Period (400 BC). Some of the most notable artefacts are: the earliest prehistoric tools and artistic representations, the ‘Sleeping Lady’ (from the Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum), the ‘Venus of Malta’ (from Ħaġar Qim Temples), the Bronze Age daggers (from Tarxien Temples), and the Horus & Anubis pendant, together with the anthropomorphic sarcophagus, both of which date to the Phoenician Period.
ST. JOHN'S CO-CATHEDRAL AND MUSEUM, VALLETTA
Described as the first complete example of the high Baroque anywhere, St. John’s Cathedral
epitomises the role of its original patrons, the Knights of St. John. The Cathedral is testimony to the talent of Maltese military architect Gerolamo Cassar, with Mattia Preti’s intricately carved stone wall designs, as well as the painted vaulted ceiling and side altars with scenes from the life of St John. The Cathedral also houses one of Europe’s most impressive and famous art works – Caravaggio’s Beheading of St. John the Baptist. The Cathedral was a shrine to the Knights, as many sons of Europe's noble families from the 16th to 18th centuries lie buried here. Their intricate, marble-inlaid tombstones form a magnificently crafted pavimento. Also a resting place to the founder of Valletta, Grand Master Jean Parisot de la Vallette, his tomb lies in the crypt, a quiet sanctuary and place of contemplation away from the busy streets outside.
CASA ROCCA PICCOLA Casa Rocca Piccola is the 16th Century Palace of a Maltese Noble family. Apart from being a unique attraction in the centre of Valletta, Casa Rocca Piccola is still a privately owned and much loved family home. Situated within the historical attraction of Casa Rocca Piccola, La Giara is a family run restaurant in the best Sicilian tradition of hospitality and good food.
THE PALACE ARMOURY The Palace Armoury is a showcase of the opulence of the Knights of St John. Ruling the Maltese Islands from 1530 to 1798, these knights formed a unique brotherhood of resolute warrior monks who defended the Catholic faith against the relentless attacks of the Ottoman Turks.
THE PALACE STATE ROOMS Ever since its construction by the Order of St John, this Palace was richly embellished with collections of works of art and heritage items, some of which still grace its walls. While some of these were purposely produced to form part of the historic fabric of the building, others were acquired, transferred or presented at different times throughout the chequered history of the Palace. Destined for grandiosity, right from its beginning, this Palace was one of the first buildings which were constructed at the heart of the new city of Valletta, founded by Grand Master Jean de Valette. Successive Grand Masters enlarged and developed this building to serve as their official residence. Later, during the British Period, it served as the Governor’s Palace, and was the seat of Malta’s first constitutional parliament in 1921.
LASCARIS WAR ROOMS Located 150 feet under the Upper Barracca Gardens and the Saluting Battery in Valletta, the Lascaris War Rooms represent one of Malta’s best kept secrets from World War Two. The War Rooms consist of a network of underground tunnels and chambers that housed Britain’s War HQ in Malta from where the defence of the island against Axis aggression was waged and all offensive operations in the Mediterranean were directed.
SALUTING BATTERY The Saluting Battery is located on one of the best vantage points overlooking the Grand Harbour. Its origins are as old as those of the City itself, having been built as part of it, in 1566, by the Order of St. John on the design of the military engineer Francesco Laparelli. The building of Valletta followed the end of the Great Siege of 1565. During that conflict, the full length of the Valletta promontory was easily overrun by the Ottomans who built several powerful siege batteries to keep the Knights of St. John and the Maltese holed-up within Fort St. Angelo and the walled towns of Vittoriosa and Senglea. Watch daily time gun at noon which can also be viewed from the Upper Barrakka Garden.
MALTA 5D SHOW Malta 5D is a new generation theatre where you feel the “real” emotions of the movie. In a short time, you may explore the colourful and impressive episodes of the Maltese history and culture, magnified with 3D film, moving seats, water spray, air blasts and leg ticklers. A unique experience for all ages! An exhibition of works by local artists will be on display in the foyer.
SACRA INFERMERIA & MALTA EXPERIENCE AUDIO-VISUAL SHOW The Malta Experience is an audio-visual show that tells the dramatic story of the islands’ 7000 year history. Educational, informative and entertaining, the show runs through the turbulent history of a small island nation that has overcome almost unimaginable odds to survive and prosper. Tickets also include a visit to the Mediterranean Conference Centre (MCC) right across the road. One of the most imposing buildings in Valletta, the MCC saw the start of its history as the "Sacra Infermeria" of the Order of St John of Jerusalem, located adjacent to Fort St Elmo and overlooking the Grand Harbour.
MDINA Also known at Citta' Vecchia or Citta' Notabile, Mdina is a beautiful fortified city situated in the centre of Malta. The island's capital up to the arrival of the Knights of the Order of St John, the city has been the scene of important historical events as well as the seat of the Cathedral Chapter till this very day. A walk through the narrow streets allows visitors to admire the detailed façades and the impressive view from the bastion walls. An excursion to Mdina can include a visit to the Cathedral Museum, Palazzo Falson Historic House Museum, the Museum of Natural History and the Mdina Dungeons. Also close by is the town of Rabat, with is Parish Church dedicated to St Paul and the famous shrine of St. Paul’s Grotto, as well as the catacomb complexes of St Paul and St Agatha. Ta’ Qali Crafts Village and the Dingli Cliffs are also situated in the vicinity and can be visited on the same day.
BIRGU Also known as Vittoriosa, Birgu served as the very first seat of the Order of St John when they came to Malta in 1530, before the creation of Valletta. In fact, the first buildings erected by the Knights are to be found here. Practically none of these buildings, however, are intact as the area was heavily damaged during the Second World War. Some of the old buildings have been totally rebuilt whilst others have been restored and are nowadays residences, offices or restaurants. The title ‘Vittoriosa’ derives from the vital role the city played in the Great Siege of 1565, namely the victory of the Knights of St John and the Maltese against the Ottoman forces. A monument commemorating this victory can be admired in the main square of the city. An excursion to Birgu can also include a visit to the National Maritime Museum, the Inquisitor’s Palace, the Malta at War Museum and the Parish Museum.
ĦAGAR QIM AND MNAJDRA ARCHAEOLOGICAL COMPLEX The temple of Ħaġar Qim stands on a hilltop overlooking the sea and the islet of Fifla, not more than 2km south-west of the village of Qrendi. At the bottom of the hill, only 500m away, one finds the remarkable temples of Mnajdra. Both sites are included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. Mnajdra consists of three buildings facing a common oval forecourt. The first and oldest structure dates to the Ġgantija phase (3600 – 3200 BC). The South Temple has its entrance set in a concave monumental facade and leads to two rooms, or apses. A small niche situated in the right-side apse and accessed through a small porthole slab set within a trilithon, features on the Maltese 5, 2 and 1 euro cent coins. Opposite the main entrance is the doorway to the second set of apses flanked by two large blocks decorated with small drilled holes. This doorway and the decorated blocks mark the position of the rising sun on the first day of spring and autumn (the Equinoxes) and the first day of summer and winter (the Solstices). A dedicated visitor centre offers information about the site in a fun and interactive manner.