The 24 best sights of Valletta – descriptions and photos

Valletta

Valletta is one of the few European capitals that can be explored “from” and “to” in one visit, with all the historical and architectural sights. The baroque, walled city is located in the northeastern part of the island of Malta. Valletta is home to just over 5,000 inhabitants. Its size is only a kilometer long and half a kilometer wide. Even the international airport, located in the vicinity of the city takes up more space. But even so, Valletta is a vibrant city with an interesting culture and something for everyone.

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Video: Valletta

Geographical features

The city is situated at the tip of the small peninsula of the Shiberras, on the north-eastern coast of Malta. For visitors arriving in Valletta by sea, the diminutive capital seems an organic extension of the rocky coast, meeting the walls of the forts and then the old civic buildings. Like many island towns, Valletta has a difficult water supply. Groundwater is not potable, so locals have to somehow contrive with rainwater tanks and desalination plants.

You won’t find any lush bushes around Valletta either – you’ll find drought-tolerant shrubs and cacti interspersed with the occasional orchard tree or pine tree. The exception is the man-made Lower and Upper Barracca Gardens, which offer a panoramic view of the Grand Harbour. The Upper Gardens are accessed by a special elevator to listen to the rattle of the antique cannons at noon.

History

All scholars agree on the origin of the name of the Maltese capital. Jean Parisot de Vallette was a French nobleman with adventurous ambitions who carved out a brilliant career. In his youth, in the first half of the 16th century, he commanded a galley, and then, captured by the Turks, he abruptly changed his fate – became a simple galley oarsman. After his liberation, his career took off: he became governor of Libya’s Tripoli. In 1557 he was elected Grand Master of the Order of Malta, in effect the acting ruler of the island nation.

Valletta proved a heroic figure in this field. When the island came up a powerful Turkish squadron, the Maltese army, led by a 70-year-old master managed to repel the attack. Despite the victory, the defenders suffered heavy losses. From then on, the settlement, named after the Grand Master, was decided to turn into an impregnable fortress. The city grew and prospered until the XVIII century, when it fell into the hands of Napoleon and then the British, without much, however, destruction. But World War II did not spare it: the bombing damaged many historic buildings, which had to be reconstructed.

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Valletta sights

The architectural value is not so much in the individual buildings of the Maltese capital, as in the whole ensemble, which creates the atmosphere of a fortress city, always ready to resist unexpected guests, which does not deny itself the luxury. A harmonious combination of buildings from different eras, from Baroque to Art Nouveau. In 1980 the old town was included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Monuments of military history

At the tip of the peninsula, east of the bay of the same name, is the main fortification of Valletta: Fort St. Elmo. The first buildings here date back to the 14th century, but they were seriously damaged during the clashes with the Turks. The complex acquired its present appearance in the second half of the 16th century. It is a complex structure of asymmetrical half-bastions with fortified flanks and facades, barracks and plazas. The Fort, restored in 2015, houses the Military Museum, festivals dedicated to the medieval history of Malta, and processions of the National Guard in colorful historical costumes with puffy feathers.

St. John’s Cathedral

The Maltese Knights, before settling on the island, bore the name John the Baptist in honor of John the Baptist. The cathedral, built in the 1770s, was dedicated to the same saint and is located in the center of the city, 500 meters southwest of Fort St. Elmo. Its heavy walls do not differ much from the fort, not coincidentally the design was prepared by a military architect. Inside, visitors are in for a surprise: the baroque opulence of the interior stands in stark contrast to the austere restraint of the facade. The painter Mattia Preti, a Caravaggio follower and Knight of the Order of Malta, spared no expense for the cathedral’s interior decoration in terms of opulent detail. Caravaggio himself also paid his respects to the temple by leaving him a painting of the Beheading of John the Baptist. There are also many wooden reliefs and ceiling frescoes on the life of the saint and the famous knights who were buried here in the cathedral.

Palaces of the Knights of Malta

Despite the once austere rules of the Johannites, the Knights of Malta weren’t at all Spartan. There are a few surviving palaces which speak volumes about the glamorous lifestyle of the Order’s higher-ups. In our time in the palace of the Grand Master the president of the Republic of Malta and its parliament moved there. Ordinary mortals are allowed into the building from 9 am to 5 pm, unless there are official events at the time. It’s also home to the Armory, where you can admire the amazingly compact, by modern standards, armor of Maltese knights.

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While the rulers indulged in luxury, the knights stayed in more modest quarters. This is evidenced by the Auxerges de Castille, which has survived to the present day. Today, the building, with cannons on its front porch, serves as the residence of Malta’s Prime Minister.

One of the private estates of the Casa Rossa Piccola, a palace with a 400-year history. However, modern representatives of the aristocratic family of the Marquis de Piro willingly offer their services to tourists. For example, for just 25 euros on a Friday evening you can taste champagne in the company of the palace owner and finish the evening in one of the city’s restaurants. There are 45-minute detailed tours of the house.

Tourist information

The island has a mild climate, which can be too hot at the height of summer, but in July there’s virtually no rain. In Valletta, the heat is easier to bear than in other parts of Malta, thanks to the clever architectural design. A gentle breeze from the sea flows freely through the city streets, refreshing the dry air. Winters in Valletta are mild, with heavy rainfall and no frost.

Getting there

The International Airport of Malta is situated 5 km south-west of the capital. It receives mainly European flights, including flights from Moscow, organized jointly by Air Malta and Aeroflot. More cost-effective options can be found if you decide to transfer at one of the airports in Germany, in Rome or Belgrade. Valletta is the starting point for travelling around Malta by public transport. From here, the main bus routes run.

Sea routes from Valletta

There are ferry stations scattered along the coast of the peninsula. Most of them are formally moved outside the capital, as there is too little space. Ferries to Italy depart from the pier in Valletta, located on the eastern coast, 1 km from the city limits.

The main cafes and restaurants in Valletta

There are plenty of restaurants serving national cuisines from around the world, and it’s no coincidence that Malta has been at the crossroads of trade for centuries. You’ll find cozy coffee shops, pizzerias, burger joints and other eateries with decent-quality fresh, though unpretentious food at every turn. Giannini on the west side of town is famous for its fantastic views of the sea. Adults are welcome at La Mère in the center of Valletta.

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Public transport

There are bus stops every 200 metres, but these are not so much for internal travel in Valletta as for pick-up lines to other locations.

Valletta’s festivals

The Knights didn’t lead an overly monastic life: The week before Lent began for Catholics – usually in February – Valletta became the center of the Malta Carnival, when masked revellers went wild and even the Order’s leadership were jeered at. Today, during Carnival days, the Maltese still dress up, dance in the streets and make the local sponge cake with nuts and candied fruits.

Valletta sights

Palace Square Catacombs Museum of Fine Arts St. Paul’s Cathedral Valletta Island Malta Freedom Bridge Square

The site contains Valletta attractions – photos, descriptions and travel tips. The list is based on popular travel guides and presented by type, name and rating. Here you can find the answers to the questions: what to see in Valletta, where to go and where are the popular and interesting places in Valletta.

Palace Square

Palace Square (photo)

Palace Square is located in the historic center of Valletta, the capital of Malta. It has a square shape, surrounded by four streets, one of which is Republic Street, the main city street that divides the city into two parts.

The main attraction of the square is the magnificent 16th century palace, which used to be the residence of the Grand Master, and now is the administrative building of the president and parliament of Malta. Some of its rooms are open to the public and guided tours are offered.

Not far from the Palace Square are St. John’s and St. Paul’s Cathedrals.

Coordinates : 35.89868000,14.51402100

Catacombs

Catacombs (photo)

Catacombs with numerous tombs were discovered in the Maltese town of Zurrick. They are located near the Charollais windmill and in some sources bear its name.

The first excavations were made in the first quarter of the last century. During the work, it was discovered that the tombs had been looted. However, archaeological remains, including ceramics from the second century A.D. and some finds from the Carthaginian and Phoenician periods, were nevertheless recovered. The artifacts found and the extent of the catacombs indicated that the area had ancient settlements.

Coordinates: 35.83206200,14.48092100

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Museum of Fine Arts

The Museum of Fine Arts (photo)

One of the best museums in Malta is the Valletta Museum of Fine Arts. Its fame is due to the fact that in its halls you can find real masterpieces of Maltese as well as European artists and sculptors, such as Vittore Carpaccio, Antoine Fevray, Hubert Robert, Boucher, Giuseppe Mazzuoli, Melchiora Gafa, Domenico Morelli and other masters. The exhibitions are located on two floors and include sculptures, paintings by artists, collections of ceramics, silver and antique weapons.

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Tourists are also interested in the building where the museum is located. It was built in 1571 and has an interesting history. Originally the building was intended for the French knight Jean de Sobrian, but later it was given to the Knights of the Order of Malta. In the 20th century it belonged to the Commander-in-Chief of the British Navy and was therefore called the Admiralty House in 1921.

Coordinates : 35.89833900,14.50932600

In photo mode you can view landmarks in Valletta by photo only.

St. Paul’s Cathedral

Saint Paul's Cathedral (photo)

St. Paul’s Cathedral is a pro-denominational Anglican church located in Independence Square in the capital of Malta, Valletta. It was erected on the site of the convent house of the Knights Hospitallers between 1839 and 1844 in neoclassical style at the initiative of Queen Adelaide of England, who visited Malta in the 19th century and found no Anglican church here.

The height of the cathedral thanks to the upward spire reaches sixty meters, its facade is beautifully decorated with Corinthian columns. The temple has a handmade organ from England.

Coordinates: 35.90071400,14.51212100

Valletta

Valletta (photo)

Valletta is the capital city of Malta, situated on a rocky peninsula on the north-eastern coast of the island. It is an ancient city with a rich history, so there is an almost complete absence of modern buildings and every house, especially in the central part, has been built several centuries ago. The streets of Valletta rise up from the center to the outskirts of the city along the slope of Skibarras Mountain. The main street is considered Republic Street, which divides the city into two parts.

The climate is Mediterranean, with scorching dry summers and warm rainy winters. The locals, the Maltese, speak two languages: Maltese, which is similar to Arabic, and English.

Valletta has many museums and a huge number of attractions. Many streets are hiking trails. Here are some of the capital’s landmarks: the City Gate – the main entrance to the city, the Auberge de Castille, St. Paul’s Cathedral, 18th century university, Palazzo Ferreria, St. James Cavalier tower, Auberge de Provence building, Jesuit church, Casa Rossa Piccola palace and others.

Coordinates: 35.89777800,14.51250000

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Island of Malta

The island of Malta (photo)

The island of Malta is the largest of the three main islands that make up the Maltese Archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea. It has an area of 246 square kilometers.

The climate is Mediterranean, with hot, dry summers and rainy, warm winters. The landscape is represented by terraced fields, gentle hills and cliffs. The highest point (253 meters) is located among the rocky cliffs of Dingli on the west coast of the island. The capital of Malta is Valletta, the ancient capital – Mdina, and the largest city – Birkirkara.

The island of Malta with its ancient history and beautiful coastline with equipped beaches is a favorite among tourists from all over the world. Here you can combine a relaxing holiday at the seaside with sightseeing and sightseeing programs in the beautiful corners of this wonderful island.

Coordinates: 35.89161800,14.43129800

Liberty Square

Freedom Square (photo)

Freedom Square is situated on the western end of Republic Street, which is the main thoroughfare of Valletta, the capital of Malta. The square is accessed by the City Gate. On its right hand side is the tower of St James Cavalier, built at the end of the 16th century, which is now home to an arts center aimed at preserving Malta’s traditions, culture and heritage. Not far away is the residence of the Prime Minister of the country, housed in the ancient mansion of a knight, the Auberge de Castille. Opposite Freedom Square is the Palazzo Ferreria, one of the most beautiful palaces in Valletta.

Coordinates: 35.89718500,14.50872100

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Mosta

Bridge (photo)

Mosta is a Maltese town located in the center of the island, northwest of the capital Valletta. The city is attractive for its sights, the main one being the Rotunda of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, whose dome is the third largest among European churches. Another notable landmark is the Kumbo Tower, built in the Middle Ages.

The population of Bridge is about twenty thousand people. Since the town is located in the central part of the island, most of the bus routes and excursion car programs pass through it.

Coordinates : 35.90972200,14.42611100

The most popular attractions in Valletta with descriptions and photos for all tastes. Choose the best places to visit famous places in Valletta on our website.

More places of interest in Valletta.

Tarshin Temple, Valletta, Malta Medieval Cumbo Tower, Valletta, Malta Marsamchett Harbour, Valletta, Malta Borge in Nadur, Valletta, Malta Lower Baracca Gardens, Valletta, Malta Floriana. Porte des Bombes Gate, Valletta, Malta

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