17 Jan 2019 - 18 Jan 2019
2 guests - 1 room
Beautiful walled city of Valletta was simply amazing when you first see it. All the uniform colored buildings and how well kept they were and the architecture just made me fell in love with the place.
As early as 1524, the Order of the Knights of St. John had proposed to build a new city on the Sciberras peninsula, a strategic site with access to Marsamxett Harbour on the west coast and Grand Harbour on the east. At the time, the only building in the area was a small watchtower which was later demolished to make way for the larger Fort St. Elmo. After defeating the Ottomans in the Great Siege of 1565, Grand Master Jean Parisot de Valette immediately set out with the Knights' plans to build a fortified city in order to strengthen their position in Malta. Francesco Laparelli, an Italian architect, was sent to Malta by the Pope and tasked to design the city whilst his assistant, Girolamo Cassar, a Maltese architect, designed most of the earlier buildings and later oversaw the construction of the city himself after Laparelli's death. They planned a new city on a rectangular grid plan with straight streets beginning at the City Gate and ending at Fort St. Elmo which was heavily bombarded during the siege. The fort was rebuilt and integrated within the new city. Valletta's foundation stone was laid on 28 March 1566 in what later became Our Lady of Victories Church. Grand Master La Valette gave his name to the city which was to become known as La Valletta. He died in 1568 and like Laparelli never saw the completion of the city. Valletta was almost complete by the early 1570s and became Malta's capital city on 18 March 1571 when the new Grand Master, Pierre de Monte, moved his seat from Fort St. Angelo in Birgu to the Grandmaster's Palace in Valletta. The walled city contains various buildings from the 16th century including the original seven Auberges built for the Order's Langues. It is essentially Baroque in character with elements of Neo-Classical and Modern architecture. Valletta has suffered major bombing and destruction during the Second World War. Eventually it was recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Valletta is also European Capital of Culture 2018. Valletta is a working city. It is Malta's administrative and commercial heart. It is busy by day yet it retains a timeless atmosphere by night. It boasts some of Europe's finest art collections, churches and palaces. It is rich with sites to see and explore and it is also dotted with numerous small shops, cafes, restaurants and boutique hotels. Valletta is also popular with filmmakers and has over the years been used as a backdrop for a number of blockbuster movies including Midnight Express, Black Eagle, U-571, Munich and 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi. The best way to get around Valletta and take in the sites most is on foot. Starting at City Gate, visitors will walk past the New Parliament Building, constructed between 2011 and 2014 to designs by world-renowned Renzo Piano as part of the City Gate Project, which also included the new City Gate itself and the conversion of the ruins of the Royal Opera House into an open-air theatre. Turning onto South Street, visitors will walk up past the city's first building and oldest church dedicated to Our Lady of Victories. Grand Master La Vallette was originally buried here and his remains were later transferred to St. John's Co-Cathedral. Over the years, the church suffered deterioration to both its structure and its paintings. Thanks to sterling work by NGO Din l-Art Helwa and various benefactors, the church went through extensive restoration. Visitors continue walking up the street reach the Auberge de Castille, one of Malta's finest buildings which houses the Office of the Prime Minister. The auberge is situated in Castille Square, close to St. James Cavalier, the Malta Stock Exchange and the Upper Barrakka Gardens and at the highest point of Valletta overlooking the Grand Harbour and Floriana. Visitors are invited to proceed to the Upper Barrakka Gardens from where they can enjoy amazing views of the Grand Harbour, Fort St. Angelo and the Three Cities across the harbour. The gardens are located on the upper tier of St. Peter and St. Paul Bastion. At the bastion's lower tier visitors find the Saluting Battery from where ceremonial gun salutes are fired. A panoramic lift links the gardens to the harbour down below. Forty meters beneath the gardens, visitors can also access Lascaris War Rooms, a mechanically ventilated tunnel complex that accommodated Britain's top secret command during the Second World War and remained in use until 1977. Down Merchants' Street, visitors will walk past the Auberge d'Italie, with its symmetrical facade, which until recently housed the Malta Tourism Authority. Most of this street has been pedestrianized and numerous high street brand names have set up shop here. Visitors can enjoy a coffee or a fresh beverage at one of the al fresco cafes along this street or else move on to the more prominent and vibrant Republic Street which is similarly pedestrianized. In Republic Street, visitors encounter several buildings and squares of note including the Archaeology Museum at the Auberge de Provence, St. John's Square, the Courts of Justice, the Casino Maltese, Grandmaster's Palace, St. George's Square, the Malta Chamber of Commerce and Casa Rocca Piccola amongst others. The Grandmaster's Palace is located opposite St. George's Square. It is the largest building in Valletta, occupying a whole city block. The palace's simple and unassuming exterior is contrasted with the abundant riches inside. It currently houses the Office of the President of the Republic. Parts of the building, namely the Palace State Rooms and the Palace Armoury are open to visitors. Valletta is replete with churches, the most famous of the lot being St. John's Co-Cathedral. The building was commissioned by Grand Master Jean de la Cassiere and dedicated to St. John the Baptist. In the 17th Century, its interior was redecorated in the Baroque style by Mattia Preti and other artists. The Cathedral contains nine rich chapels, one dedicated to Our Lady of Philermos and the rest dedicated to the patron saints of each of the Order's eight langues. The Cathedral is also home for notable works of art, amongst them the Beheading of St. John the Baptist and St. Jerome Writing - both by Caravaggio. The cathedral's marble floor is an entire series of tombs, where about 400 knights and officers of the Order are laid to rest. There is also a crypt containing the tombs of Grand Masters. At the far end of Republic Street visitors arrive at Fort St. Elmo. The World Monuments Fund placed the fort on its 2008 Watch List of the most endangered sites in the world because of its significant deterioration. In 2009, major restoration works started and were completed in 2015. The fort hosts the National War Museum which contains military equipment related to both World Wars and a replica of the George Cross that was awarded to Malta by King George VI in 1942. Fort St. Elmo also houses the Malta Police Academy. More sites in Valletta worth visiting include the Church of St. Paul's Shipwreck, St. Paul's Anglican Cathedral, the Mediterranean Conference Centre and Malta Experience, the Manoel Theatre, the Toy Museum, the National Library, Hastings Garden, the Lower Barrakka Gardens as well as the Siege Bell Memorial amongst others.
This is a very nice city with a deep water port so that we could walk right into the city. We went to the central bus station and took the local bus to visit some of the sites. This was much cheaper and more frequent than the hop on hop off. Got good internet at the Burger King.
Always an event happening in Valletta. Besides the history, you never know what you'll happen upon in some of the side streets.