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Valletta - The Capital of Malta

Everyone who has visited the capital of Malta, Valletta will fall in love with her forever. Valletta is the sunniest and smallest capital of Europe. But the real charm of this city is hidden in countless monuments and its unique atmosphere. 310 monuments on an area of 55 hectares make Valletta one of the most concentrated heritage sites in the world. It offers residents and tourists a number of cultural events, and in 2018 it was chosen the European Capital of Culture. When you cross the Valletta City Gate, you enter a city that looks like an open-air museum. What should not be overlooked? You will find the answer to this question below.

Grand Master's Palace

The history of Valletta is not long (the cornerstone was laid only in 1566), but closely related to the Order of the Knights of Malta. It was they who chose the Sciberras peninsula, located between the two bays of Grand Harbor and Marsamxett, as the site of the fortification city. The founder was Grand Master Jean Parisot de la Valette, in whose honor the city was named. One of the oldest buildings, the Grand Master's Palace, also dates from this period. In Valletta, the facades of buildings do not say what is inside, a good example of which is the palace. Going inside we come across two large courtyards, from which corridors lead to historic chambers. In the state chambers where the Grand Master's residence was located, you always have the impression that the knight is about to come out from around the corner or that the armor will come to life and begin to move. The halls and corridors of this beautiful floor are still embellished with portraits and coats of arms of the great masters, paintings depicting the victorious battles of the order and unique tapestries. A place not to be missed is the richly equipped armory upstairs. Malta delights visitors with a collection of over 100,000 military objects from the 16th-20th centuries. The exhibition is only a small part of the collection, but it will surely delight even those who do not like military equipment. Knight's armor, elements of the great masters' equipment, including horse armor, unique, well-preserved first pieces of white weapons. This and more can be seen here. In the armory, your imagination works all the time. Does the vision of a helmet weighing 2.5 or even 10 kg make you wonder how much the remaining elements of the armor must have weighed and how the knight who was wearing it must have felt?

The Manoel Theatre - Museum and Courtyard

Teatru Manoel is an Italian theatre and a landmark performing arts centre in Malta since 1732.  Simply called ‘The Manoel’, the theatre has been named after the one who sanctioned its construction - the Grand Master of the Order of the Knights Hospitaller, Fra António Manoel de Vilhena. Today, the theatre lives up to the title of ‘Europe's third-oldest working theatre’. The building preserves the original shape and decorations from 1732 . The grand Teatru Manoel Valletta Malta is located on Old Theatre Street. Manoel Theatre Malta is renowned for having hosted some of the most loved opera singers, musicians and troupes. The building seats only 620 viewers, but that's more than enough for an island as small as Malta in the 18th century. An interesting fact, however, is that in 1993 the Theater Administration conducted an analysis of the use of administered rooms in order to make the premises more attractive and financially profitable. Projects undertaken included the creation of a small theater museum containing important theater elements such as historical costumes and stage props, the reallocation and redesign of the bar and ticket offices, and the creation and equipment of a specialized book and record store. and three studio apartments for visiting artists.The central courtyard of Casa Bonici, a large 18th-century house on the corner of the Old Bakery, is at the heart of the rehabilitation plan, providing an exterior space linking the bookstore with the reservoirs and a bar and theater and museum on the other side. The courtyard of the 18th century townhouses was originally designed as lungs for the surrounding interior spaces, providing fresh air and shade from the hot summer sun. At night, they act as containers for collecting heavier cool air as it settles to the ground before moving sideways into the building. The resulting air movement also helps minimize the formation of mold caused by the rising damp in the porous limestone structure of this period. The courtyard is also an intimate outdoor space, creating the atmosphere of the square on each level of the elegantly designed loggia, which is used by the residents of the house. The courtyard roofing project, which is an extension of the theater bar, is a response to these environmental conditions, in particular to the air movement that should be able to flow through the building. During the mild spring and fall seasons it is fully retracted to allow the courtyard to function as an outdoor space, while in winter it operates in a fully closed position to provide protection from rain and cold wind without completely sealing the courtyard. In summer, the fins are positioned at a 45-degree angle and covered with a canvas to provide shade while allowing a cool breeze to direct into the building. In the fully retracted position, the roof completely disappears, restoring the courtyard to its original appearance.

The Old University Building

Is also known as the Valletta Campus, is the original campus of the University of Malta, located adjacent to the Church of the Jesuits in Valletta, Malta. Construction of the building began in 1595, and it originally housed a Jesuit college known as the Collegium Melitense Societatis Jesu. The building had to be repaired after being damaged in an explosion in 1634 and an earthquake in 1693. The University of Malta was established in 1769 after the Jesuits were expelled by GM Pinto following the order of The Pope Clement XIV and it continued to use the same building. Although the University moved to a much larger campus at Tal-Qroqq in Msida in the 1960s, the Old University Building still houses a number of University departments and it is used for some lectures and conferences. To this day, all graduation ceremonies at the University of Malta take place in this historic building.

Basilica of Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Madonna tal-Karmnu - Our Lady of Mount Carmel, or the Basilica of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, is a Roman Catholic temple, the most characteristic church in Valletta. The first temple in this place was the baroque church of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, designed and erected by Giloramo Cassar in 1573. The present, neoclassical facade is the work of Giuseppe Bonavia from 1852. During World War II, the church was so badly damaged that it had to be rebuilt - the new building was erected in 1958-1981. It has a huge, 42 m high dome. The interior is made of different varieties and colors of marble. They are decorated with numerous statues and ornaments forged in marble. All the sculptural work was done by Joseph Damato, which took him nearly 20 years. In the 17th century, the church was handed over to the Carmelite Order, which is why it owes its present name. A painting of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, located in the main altar of the temple, comes from that period.

Our Lady of Victory Church

The first church, and most likely a building, to be completed in Valletta was the Church of Our Lady of Victory. It was created as a votive gift for the victory of the Order over the Turks, in the place where the cornerstone was laid for the construction of the city. The investment was financed entirely by de Vallette himself, who after his death in 1568 was buried in the crypt of the temple. The building, designed by one of the main architects of the Maltese capital - Gerolamo Cassare, a student of Laparelli - became a monastic church on the day the headquarters of the Order was moved from Birgu to Valletta. She held this position until 1577, when it was completed construction of the St. John. The Church of Our Lady of Victory has been rebuilt several times and the damage from World War II has been reconstructed. Currently, the facility is undergoing a comprehensive renovation. Inside you will find rich decorations, beautiful altars and wooden stalls, numerous paintings and many works of sacred art.

Saint John's Co-Cathedral

Co-cathedral is the most important church in a given place. The one in Valletta was built in 1573–1578 as a church of hospitals. It has 9 chapels, in the first one there is a painting of Our Lady of Filerimos, the remaining 8 are dedicated to each of the languages of the Knights Hospitaller. The Cathedral was the main religious site of the Order of the knights of Malta. It is lavishly decorated with pure gold and beautiful frescoes by Caravaggio's most famous follower, Mattia Preti. On the floor are the tombs of 378 knights of the Order who have been buried there since 1606. The tombstones are decorated with magnificent marble mosaics with deep symbolism showing the heroism of the knights buried there.

Only in six places around the world outside of Italy you can see more than one work of one of greatest artists Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio. It is in the cathedral of St. John, you can see two of his paintings - St. Jerome and the Beheading of St. John the Baptist. Beheading of St. John the Baptist is the greatest work in Caravaggio's oeuvre and also the only painting he has signed.

St. Paul’s Shipwreck Church

The baroque church of St.Paul Shipwreck in Valletta was built by the Knights Hospitaller, designed by Girolamo Cassar. The construction of the church began in 1570 with the funds of the cathedral. The church was rebuilt between 1639 and 1679. It is in this church you can see a fragment of the column at which St. Paul was beheaded. It was donated by Pope Pius VII to the people of Valletta who were fighting the plague epidemic in 1813. The second part of this column is located where St. Paul was executed in the Roman abbey of Tre Fontane. Another valuable memento is the reliquary containing the saint's right wrist. The main altar was painted by Matteo Perez d'Aleccio, an Italian painter who studied with Michelangelo. A beautiful work of art depicts the shipwreck of St. Paul. It is also worth paying attention to the richly decorated organs and colorful tombstones covering the temple floor. The church is located on Triq San Pawl and the entrance is from St. Lucia's Street. The church is called The Hidden Gemstone of Valletta.

St. John Cavalier

Saint John's Cavalier is a 16th century Cavalier which forms part of the city walls of Valletta, Malta. Originally nine Cavaliers were planned, but eventually only two were built, Saint John's and Saint James Cavalier. They were both designed by military engineer Francesco Laparelli da Cortona, who, on his departure from Malta in 1569, entrusted the continuation of his work to Maltese architect Girolamo Cassar. The Cavalier is now the Embassy of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta in Malta. The building is located close to the City Gate Arcade and Hastings Gardens. It overlooks Saint John's Bastion. Nowadays the Sovereign Military Order of Malta is in Rome . This Cavalier and part of Fort St Angelo in Birgu are still under the jurisdiction of the order as their own territories.

Saint James Cavalier

Saint James Cavalier is a  twin fortification  with Saint John’s Cavalier. It is also a 16th-century cavalier in Valletta, Malta, which was built by the Order of St John. It overlooks St James' Bastion, a large obtuse-angled bastion forming part of the Valletta Land Front. St James was one of nine planned cavaliers in the city, although eventually only two were built, the other one being the identical Saint John's Cavalier. It was designed by the Italian military engineer Francesco Laparelli, while its construction was overseen by his Maltese assistant Girolamo Cassar. St James Cavalier never saw use in any military conflict, but it played a role during the Rising of the Priests in 1775. The cavalier is located in Castille Square, close to Auberge de Castille, the Central Bank of Malta, the Parliament House, the Malta Stock Exchange and the post office at Dar Annona. The cavalier was restored as part of Malta's Millennium Project, and it is now a cultural centre known as Spazju Kreattiv (Maltese for Creative Space). The cavalier is open for visitors with free entrance.

Fort St. Elmo - National War Museum

Valletta can boast the stellar Fort of St. Elma. From 1488 on the walls of the Fort there is an observation tower built by the Aragonese. By inviting one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers, perhaps they wanted to provide the inhabitants with an effective intercessor with God and protector of health. The fort had a strategic position defending the entrances of the two harbours of Valletta – The Grand Harbour and Marsamxxet. The fortifications were designed by the Spanish Engineer named Pietro Pardo, and included in the city's defensive walls latter. The fort played a heroic role during the Great Siege of Malta in 1565. The small fort successfully repelled the attacks of the powerful elite Ottoman army for 28 days. This ultimately contributed to the great victory of the Order over the Ottoman Empire in the Great Siege of Malta. In 2008, the fort was included in the Watch List, i.e. the list of the most endangered monuments. A year later, renovation works began. In those parts of the fort that function as the War Museum, you can see exhibits from both ancient and modern times.

Lower Barrakka Gardens

The Lower Barrakka Gardens were erected on top of St. Christophe and like the upper gardens of the same name offer a pleasant view of the Grand Harbor. Here we will see the magnificent neoclassical monument of Alexander Ball. Ball was a British commissioner who became famous for his bravery and dedication in the uprising against the French in the late 18th century.

Upper Barrakka Gardens

These are twin gardens with the Lower Barrakka Gardens, which were created in the upper part of the Peter and Paul bastion in 1560. At the very beginning of its existence, it was a place of rest for the knights of the Italian Language. It was opened to visitors in 1800.  The View of the famous Grand Harbour from the large terrace of the garden is breathtaking.

In the park there are monuments of famous people from history - Winston Churchill and prominent Maltese politicians. Every day, at noon, in the garden, members of the Maltese Reconstruction Society, dressed in British Artillery uniforms, give a cannon salute.

Hastings Gardens

Hastings Gardens are located on the west side of the City Gate and are laid out on two bastions: St. John and the bastion of St. Michael.The park owes its name to the governor of Malta, Francis Rawdon-Hastings, who was buried in this garden after his death in 1827. We reach Hastings Gardens by turning left behind the City Gate and going up the stairs. The gardens offer an intimate atmosphere and a view to the north - incl. incl. to  Marsamxett Harbour, Valletta City gate, Manuel's island and fort and Sliema. Valletta's greenest garden will ensure everyone's relaxation, even during the hot Maltese summer.

La Sacra Infermeria

La Sacra Infermeria was established in 1574 in Valletta as a hospital for residents and foreigners, as well as for pilgrims traveling to the Holy Land. The building was modernized in the 17th century and has become one of the leading European hospitals with a capacity of over 1,000 patients. The hospital had wards for men, women, and a ward for slaves who were entitled to the same medical treatments. An interesting fact is that all food for patients in the hospital was served on silver plates. This provided a better level of disinfection and reduced the risk of disease spreading. Medical care was one of the main activities of the Knights Hospitallers, and la Sacra Infermeria had its own budget for expenses voted annually by the knights. Today, The Malta Experience takes place in this unique building. It is a very popular film screening that is an ideal introduction to the history of Malta and Gozo, translated into 15 languages. The Malta Experience will provide its visitors with an unforgettable journey into the amazing history of the Maltese archipelago.

Castille Palace (Auberge de Castille)

This historic palace is now the heart of the Republic of Malta. It is today the most important political place as it is home to the Cabinet of the Prime Minister of Malta, a leading political figure in the republic. The palace was built in 1574 as one of the eight auberg knights of the Sovereign Order of the Knights of Malta. This was the Auberge of the knights of Castile, Leon, and Portugal. The magnificent baroque building dates back to 1744. The palace is one of the most beautiful architectural masterpieces of Valletta. The monuments of the four most important prime ministers in the history of Malta are proudly standing on the square of the palace. Although the Castilian Palace can only be admired from the outside today, visitors always take the opportunity to take souvenir photos on its steps.

MUZA- National Museum of Fine Arts

The Small Museum of Fine Arts is one of the jewels of historic Valletta. The name of the museum comes from the Maltese Mu?ew Nazzjonali tal-Arti). The building is located on one of the most popular streets in Valletta - Merchant Street just behind the Castilian Palace. It is located at Auberge D'Italie. This building was one of the first to be built in Valletta in 1579 and belonged to the Italian knights. A surprise for many visitors to the museum will be an exhibition of works by some of the famous baroque artists - Mattia Preti, Guido Reni, Valentin de Boulogne, Giuseppe Ribera, Matia Storm, Carlo Mazatta. The collection of works by Matia Pretti, Caravaggio's most famous successor, is the largest in the world. Mattia Preti spent as much as 40 years in Malta, and most of his works were created on this island. Of course, this museum also includes works by local artists and those from Great Britain. A visit to MU?A leaves you with a feeling of delight over the amazing beauty of its collection.

Valletta Waterfront

Every day, after sunset, Valletta becomes a perfect place for romantic walks. Historical streets and squares are bathed in silence, and restaurants and cafes enchant with their magic. This atmosphere ensures that you never want to leave Valletta and stroll through it endlessly. Where, then, can you enjoy a romantic dinner or drink some wine? The most suitable place is the historic Valletta Waterfront. Yachts, cruise ships, nicely illuminated buildings and atmospheric pubs and cafes are the advantages of this place. You can either walk or take the lift (Barrakka Lift) right next to the Higher Barrakka Gardens. A ride in a glass elevator is an additional attraction, and at the same time the fastest way to get to the sea from the level of the gardens.

Valletta has undoubtedly earned the name of an open-air museum and it is impossible to visit it only once.