On the island of Malta, in the middle of the Mediterranean, lies the walled city of Valletta. With its magnificent baroque architecture and floodlit bastions, numerous beautiful churches, palaces and lively people, Valletta is a delightful city. Its slightly faded glory, its narrow side streets and its Grand Harbor will all remain imprinted in your memory long after your holiday in Malta has ended. 

When the Knights of St John first arrived in Malta in the 16th century, the capital, Medina, did not provide enough protection against the increasing invasions. So, in 1565, Grand Master La Vallette started the work on Valletta – a new fortified city on the peninsula known as Mount Sciberras. 

The Vatican architect Laparelli designed a rigid grid plan of uniformly designed houses dotted with palaces, baroque churches and squares. The design included eight auberges, one for each language in the Order, a Grand Master’s palace “as large as Palazzo Farnese in Rome”, a conventual church and a hospital. The city was named Valletta, in honor of the Grand master himself. Combining the work of architects Gerolamo Cassar and Laparelli, Valletta remains the beautiful and elegant baroque city they envisaged. Valletta suffered greatly with World War II, as well as in the hands of successive governments who perhaps could have done more to maintain it; however, the two original architects’ vision still manages to shine through. 

After World War II, although new towns became the new entertainment and night life centers, in the last decade the emergent middle classes have started reclaiming the city of Valletta, restoring the faded glory of this wonderful baroque city, named as a World Heritage City by UNESCO. The rehabilitation of St James’ Cavalier into an arts center, with art galleries, theater and an art-house cinema space has injected cultural life into the city. That is not to say that there was ever a cultural void – with the amazingly beautiful Manoel Theatre (one of the oldest in Europe), the Mediterranean Conference Center (once a Sacra-Infermeria of the Order of St John), a National Museum of Fine Arts, one of Archeology, museums such as the Casa Rocca Piccola, The Armory, St John’s Co-Cathedral (with some famous Caravaggio paintings), The Palace of the Grandmasters, your stay in Valletta can be one of total culture immersion. Once the city of naval glory, the new bid for Valletta is that of City of Art and Culture. 

Gerald Taylor

I am a lifelong explorer and travel enthusiast. I've never been a certified travel agent, but I have multiple family members who were. I'm not necessarily plugged in to the latest travel vendors and exclusive packages, and I've never cared for the label "life coach," but I do think I have some wisdom to offer about how people can get the most of your their vacation time.

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