Malta’s pint-sized capital and the smallest in Europe by population, takes you back to the late 1600’s. It was built on rocky land as an ultimate show of power to defend itself against the Turkish empire, who were making their way through the Mediterranean. Valletta was the first city to be planned out in Europe. Malta is one of my go to destinations, I absolutely love the place and this year the capital city was named ‘European Capital of Culture 2018’.
European Capital of Culture
You don’t have to look too far, to figure out why Valletta was bestowed with this great honor. Within this small area, there are over 300 historic sites, which UNESCO has proclaimed as “one of the most concentrated historic areas in the world.” For those of you like me, who had never heard of UNESCO until a few years ago and would have thought it was some type of coffee brand, this is a huge United Nations organisation. They know their stuff.
A peep into the Renaissance era
With a sprinkling of Renaissance-style architecture, Valletta was made for walking. Be it, that the city was constructed to a grid plan, its obvious to all who walk the thin passageways and vertical streets filled with steps, that this city was not meant for cars. The fact that vehicles don’t have access to most of this quaint city, makes it such an enjoyable place to explore. The climate is mild all year round, with summers given an incredible boost by the scirocco, a hot wind that makes its way up from North Africa.
This street at the heart of the city stretches some 1.5 km. Starting at the grand city gates and ending at Fort Saint Elmo, which can be found in all its glory in the mornings. Prior to lunch, there is a fantastic energy that oozes through the boutiques, cafes and historic piazzas. This all dies down after lunch, when most of the market stalls are packed away to make way for the siesta. I do love a Siesta! This has to be up there with the invention of sliced bread.
Views to Grand Harbour
The Grand Harbour of Valletta has to be one of the most captivating harbours in the world, however this harbour has a rich history and plays a big part in Maltese heritage. You will find some great views of the city from here.
Grand Master’s Palace
There is a somewhat Juxtaposition, when is comes to the exterior and interior of the Grand Master’s Palace. While the exterior seems rather simple and to the point, the interior screams ‘look at me’ and ‘how beautiful I am’, which it absolutely is. Once home to The Grand Masters of the Knights of St John (I know, that’s a bit of a mouthful isn’t it), it has since been the seat of Malta’s parliament up until 2015, when it then moved into a new parliament building. It’s a beautifully maintained palace and well worth a visit.
For those who like home comforts, you will be pleased to know that a bit of Blighty resides in Valletta, in the form of a branch of M & S food. You also have your pick of fantastic restaurants as well as location, be it: dinning out at the piazza, the waterfront or along one of the charming narrow streets that have special tables set out.