We are nearing the end of our week long stay in Malta and we’ve still not seen all that Malta offers. For a small island measuring just 27 kms by 14 kms, there is much to see, much to do. There’s the sights, the history and of course the food. Too much for one blog, so this blog simply deals with Malta’s capital city – Valletta, European Capital of Culture in 2018.
To understand Valletta and indeed Malta is to understand its history. A desirable location in the middle of the Mediterranean combined with deep harbours saw Malta evolve as an important trade centre for Phoenicians, Romans, Saint Paul, Arabs, Knights of St John, Ottoman Turks, French and British (Malta achieved independence from GB in 1964). They can all lay claim to having had a hand in weaving a rich tapestry of architecture, culture and language. The narrow streets, buildings and fortified walls of UNESCO listed Valletta tell incredible stories. It’s riveting stuff and on this island that experiences 300 sunny days a year, Valletta shines.
The Maltese are predominantly Catholic and their churches equal those on the continent. These pics are of St John Co Cathedral built between 1573 and 1578 by the Knights of St John. These noble warriors hail from the Crusades but when driven first from the Holy Land, then Cyprus and later Rhodes, the Holy Roman Emperor offered them a home in Malta. Wanting to make their church richer than the ones in Europe, the Knights decorated every spare centimetre in Baroque style. Gold leaf, marble and priceless paintings like Caravaggio’s masterpieces The Beheading of Saint John and St Jerome are all on show in this extravaganza.
We spent just one day in Valletta. We needed two because we didn’t get to the museums nor the Grand Masters’ Palace which was closed.
Maltese food is very tasty. The specialty is rabbit, and platters of goats cheese, sausages and beans are also on the menu. Big thumbs up for the Maltese red wine which is light and easy to quaff. The beer too, gets the thumbs up.
In my next blog, I’ll show you more of this incredible little island.