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Valletta: The Golden Pearl Of The Mediterranean

Updated on March 29, 2009

 It is a telling statistic that many tourists to Malta never venture away from their beachfront resorts and to the amazing historic wonders of the capital city of Valletta. This awe inspiring Fortress City is an architectural masterpiece founded by the Knights of St. John in 1566, and it is known as the “city built by gentlemen for gentlemen”. The capital and its suburb town of Floriana are perched on the precipitous Sciberras peninsula jutting out into Malta’s two major natural harbours, Marsamxett Harbour and Grand Harbour. It is a spectacular location which merits a thorough visit, and is a strongly advised break from the “pint for an Euro” tourist sprawl of the beach areas.

Valletta is very much a thriving, vibrant and very alive capital city as well as an impressive cultural centre and the administrative and commercial heart of the island nation of Malta. Valletta is highly regarded as a superlative example of baroque architecture and some of the world’s greatest examples of military engineering can be found in the bastions of this fortress city. Some of Europe’s finest churches, palaces and cultural treasures may be found within its grid of narrow streets which seem more at home in a Sicilian hill town. The city is extremely busy by day, yet retains a historical and heritage atmosphere. At night when the whole area is lit up in an orange glow, the magic of the ages seems to dance amidst the cobbled streets and the visitor can revel in alluring historical sites on virtually every corner: votive statues, niches, fountains, and ancient coats of arms situated high up on building parapets.

Valletta is most definitely a city where world class art and culture are held in the highest possible esteem. There are precious few Mediterranean cities which are as rich in architectural, historical and cultural heritage as this marvelous baroque, walled city. The tourist has a choice of visiting phenomenal churches such as St. Johns Co Cathedral, admire Caravaggio’s paintings, awe at the magnificence of the Grand Masters Palace or stroll amidst internationally renowned art galleries and formal gardens which are meticulously maintained to this very day.

Valletta is also a city of grand events. Almost every day, street events are staged against the backdrop of the city’s sublime baroque architecture and golden floodlit bastions. The city offers ample cultural and artistic venues and events, including theatrical and musical productions on a grand scale. plus exhibitions of classic to avant garde art, and even Maltese traditional church festas. The city is built around narrow side streets which are full of tiny shops selling antiques, maps, books, prints and jewellery for your shopping pleasure. A great way to get your bearings is a Harbor Cruise around the fortified city walls of Valletta which will show you the capital city from a completely unique perspective.

Although is it officially classified as a suburb, Floriana lies inside Valletta’s landward fortifications extending all the way to the Portes des Bombes on the main city road. This suburb town features sublime patrician houses and 17th century wharf buildings as well as several world class gardens laid out in the time of the Knights of Malta: “The Knights of the Order of St John”. The Valletta and Floriana area are “must sees” in any Mediterranean tour as they are in a completely different universe than the “Full English Breakfast for 3 Euros” SPF30-scented baking beach areas of Malta.

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