Malta: Blend of Culture & Beaches
Capital of the Republic of Malta, the entire city of Valletta is testimony to the grandeur of the Knights of Malta, the European noblemen who were granted the Maltese Islands by the King of Spain in 1530. Described by UNESCO as ‘one of the most concentrated historic areas of the world’, the city has 320 monuments depicting its numerous rulings by the Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs and the Order of the Knights of St John. With its key location, it has even played a vital role during World War II.
Valletta is Malta’s administrative and commercial hub, with several government departments occupying some of its historical buildings. Immersed in history, culture and sheer architectural beauty, the city is bounded by two harbors, the Grand Harbor and Marsamxett Harbor.
With iconic Carmelite Basilica's dome and bell tower of Anglican St. Paul Pro-Cathedral in the background, this waterfront is a must-see, preferably from Point Shopping Mall on the Sliema front.
Upper Barracca Gardens, with its Romanesque-style arches and gorgeous views of the Valletta harbor are indispensable! Did you know they were actually built as an exercise ground for the Knights of the Langue of Italy?
St Paul’s Street is one of the most authentic of Old Valletta. It is home to numerous magnificent, historic buildings – from palazzini or grand patricians’ homes and the old university building to the covered market which was modeled on Les Halles in Paris. It houses also one of the island’s most famed festas – that of St Paul’s Shipwreck Church, held in February.
For more authentic photos, visit also Old Bakery Street that got its name from "Forni della Signoria", a bakery that no longer exists.
Summer wine festival, held around the month of July at the Hastings Garden in Valetta could be an attraction if you're around at the time.
Birgu is the oldest of an area in Malta referred to as The Three Cities (which also consist of Senglea and Cospicua) – three fortified cities built in very close proximity to each other around the Grand Harbour. It’s located right across the water from Valletta. Don’t forget to check Malta’s beautiful door handles!
Visit Mdina to step back in time! Mdina, also known as Malta’s ‘Silent City’ due to its quiet streets and strict vehicle restrictions, sits atop a hill overseeing many of the neighbouring towns. This small city is fortified and boasts an eclectic mix of medieval and Baroque architecture lining the quaint narrow streets.
Located amongst the medieval streets in the heart of Mdina, St Paul's Cathedral is believed to have been built on the site where St Paul met the Roman Governor following his shipwreck off Malta around 60 AD. The current cathedral dates from the 12th century but was extensively remoulded in 17th and 18th century following an earthquake. The glorious Baroque building is designed by the Maltese architect Lorenzo Gafa. The cathedral possesses a precious 12th-century icon of the Madonna and renowned works of art by celebrated Maltese painter Mattia Preti.
Rabat, neighboring town can be visited along with Medina In a day. Casa Bernard, a grand 16th-century palazzo that belonged to a noble Maltese family of French origins.Roman Villa is definitely worth visiting. This archaeological site, also called Domus Romana (naah), features astounding 1st-century BC Roman mosaics. Parish Church of Saint Paul, a 17th-century Baroque church, which was built on the site of the grotto where it is believed that Saint Paul found shelter after his shipwreck off the coast of Malta in 60 AD. Right next to the parish church, the Wignacourt Museum displays an extensive collection of Punic-Roman artifacts.
The Mosta Dome is perhaps the most impressive church in Malta, with its’ massive rotunda, that is the third largest in the world. The Mosta Dome church was built in 1860, and it is dedicated to the Assumption of Our Lady. During the Second World War the church was almost destroyed when, during an air raid, a 200kg bomb fell through the dome without exploding. All the 300 people attending morning mass were left unharmed.
Maltese Festa is a predominantly important activity that’s held during the summer months in every village and town around Malta. The people commemorate and celebrate the patron saint of their own and indulge in a weeklong fiesta around the place. The activity includes not just food, drink but music and a wide range of entertainment such as parades as well.
The Blue Grotto is in Wied iz Zurrieq, a village with cliffside restaurants with wonderful views.The Blue Grotto is approached by a winding road on a cliff high above the Mediterranean Sea. Boats (luzzus) leave around every 20 or 30 minutes, when the sea is calm. The 25-minute joyride speeds through the sea past six caves.
The small and picturesque fishing village of Marsaxlokk is popular for a daily open-air market, a selection of the finest fish restaurants on the island, the peaceful walks around the coast and harbour, as well as its secluded and untainted swimming zones. A must visit in Malta 😎
Malta's Gozo island has a fair bit of history to tell. All roads in Gozo lead to the Citadel in Rabat (also known as Victoria) – a beautiful fortified city that has witnessed many historic moments and stood the test of time in the most handsome way. Within its walls, the Citadel holds many precious gems, such as The Cittadella Cathedral, designed by Lorenzo Gafà and built between 1697 and 1711 in baroque style. There are also museums and old medieval houses open to the public, as well as a couple of exquisite restaurants specialising in traditional Gozitan cuisine.
Named after the plentiful cumin (flowering plant) that grows on the island, Comino island is mostly visited for a day trip from Malta.
Ghajn Tuffieha Beach is for me the best and it feels secluded in nature. Surrounded by cliffs and sloping hillsides, the beach is accessed by climbing down 200 steps. The beautiful beach bar Singita is perfect with amenities.
This is one of the 365 churches in Malta; there's one for each day of the year! The Parish of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Lourdes in Paola (or Raħal Gdid) was built by Fr. F. Xuereb and became the parish church in 1974.
Maltese Festa is a predominantly important activity that’s held during the summer months in every village and town around Malta. The people commemorate and celebrate the patron saint of their own and indulge in a week long fiesta around the place. The activity includes not just food, drink but music and a wide range of entertainment such as parades as well.
If you haven't heard yet, Malta’s beautiful doorknobs have the fame to be eye-catching! A fascinating perpetual exhibition of doorknobs decorates the exquisite streetscape everywhere you go.
Let me share some tips then. I have picked St. Julian's as a base, best location if you ask me! Central Suites has been a perfect accommodation choice; great hospitality and value for money. My itinerary has been as such:
Day2 M'dina & Blue Grotto
Day3 Ghajn Tuffieha Beach
Day4 Marsaxloxx & Birgu - Bormla - D’Isla
Day5 Gozo & Comino Islands
Day6 St Julian's
To finish off, here are culinary recommendations. Try pastizzi, a savoury pastry with a filling either of ricotta or mushy peas; drink the local beer Cisk Lager and taste the cheese gbejna. My favorite restaurant by far is Fernando Gastrotheque; three words: chique, elegant and cosy. In Valletta, Ta'nenu is your ideal choice for typical Maltese dishes. And remember, Crudo in St. Julian's has the best bruschetta!
Not to forget; Paradise Exiles is a cool beach bar where you can swim, hang out, have drinks, get a sunbed & umbrella and always have great music in the background. You can drop by for more fun at night time as well. If you're looking for a boat tour to visit the islands, Captain Morgan is your sound option.
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