Key Locations to Visit in Valletta
Malta has become a top destination for travelers and there are so many interesting sites to see that visitors find themselves returning to the islands again and again. The first stop on most itineraries is Malta’s capital and for very good reason. Valletta is captivating.The city of Valletta will take you on a journey through a history rich in diversity. There has been bloodshed, destruction and woe, and there has been victory, grandeur and prosperity. The Knights of St John built Valletta, Napoleon conquered Valletta and the British claimed it for themselves; all for its prime location at the heart of the Mediterranean.
To see the city at its most majestic you should approach it from the sea. Take a water taxi from Sliema, and not only will you avoid the traffic, you will experience the same sense of awe as all the historic figures who came before you. The Grand Harbour is a formidable site to behold and should not be missed, and from the water you will have an amazing view of the enduring bastions that have been proudly protecting Malta for hundreds of years; the legacy of the Knights. Malta is quite fairly a small island so no matter at which resort you are staying it won’t affect your journey.
Valletta is laid out in a fairly uniform grid which makes it easy to find your way around, it’s also not a very large city and therefore rather than being an intimidating metropolis it welcomes you with a feeling of familiarity and nostalgia. It’s a pleasure to begin your exploration by just wandering the streets and admiring the Baroque churches and traditional Maltese balconies, perhaps stopping occasionally to enjoy a coffee in the shade of one of the many cafés and restaurants. Get directions to some of the fascinating museums where you can spend countless hours lost in wonder.
Republic Street is home to the National Museum of Archaeology and will take you back to Malta’s prehistoric era, with artifacts that date back 7000 years to the arrival of man on the islands.
The National Museum of Fine Arts, on South Street, houses a visual feast that ranges from early Renaissance to contemporary modern art, and features both local and international artists.
On Merchants Street you will find the Palace Armoury; it lays claim to being one of the world’s greatest arms collections, showcasing valuable relics from the Knights of St John.
Continue to find your way to Fort St Elmo to visit the National War Museum, a much sought out museum for its in-depth presentation of Malta’s military role WWII.
For a truly unique experience that will allow you a glimpse of the lives of Maltese nobility; their traditions and customs, their rich collections of art work and antique furniture; Casa Rocca Piccola is a large private family home that is now open to the public. Tours of the house include a Museum of Costume and World War II air raid shelters.
The Co-Cathedral of St John is a perfect example of the aesthetics of the Baroque period, within its stone carved walls are many wonderful treasures, but perhaps the most famous is the painting of the beheading of St John by Caravaggio. Art lovers come from all over the world to appreciate this masterpiece. It is often said that no visit to Valletta is complete without a visit to the Co-Cathedral of St John, and it is almost impossible to disagree.
End your day with a delicious meal from one of the many top class restaurants on the Valletta Waterfront. 250 years ago, Grand Master Pinto built nineteen warehouses along the Quay wall, today these warehouse have been given a new lease of life. Tastefully restored, the buildings now offer a lovely place to relax and unwind at the water’s edge, especially after a fulfilling day of appreciating culture, history and the beauty of Malta’s capital city.