August 1, 2016 § Leave a comment
Situated 80 km of the coast of Sicily,in the central Mediterranean Malta is in fact an archipelago consisting of Malta, Comino, and Gozo. From the Phoencians, Romans, Arabs, Normans, French, to the Brits; Malta passed through many hands, and due to its strategic location (lying equidistant from the Straits of Gibraltar and Suez and the shores of North Africa and Italy) was valued highly. The islands were given to the Knights of St. John by Holy Roman Emperor Charles V in the 16th century and they ruled until Napoleon’s fleet captured the islands in 1798. Malta played a key, but sadly forgotten, role in the second world war (but more on that in a separate article).
Valletta, Malta’s capital, has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1980. The city boasts Baroque architecture, narrow cobblestone streets, the Grand Harbour, quaint wooden balconies, and colonnaded gardens (which are just as lovely in the evenings with a cool breeze blowing and the Grand Harbour shimmering before you). As the photographs will attest: Valletta is a delight.
If one sight deserves special mention then it has to be St. John’s Co-Cathedral. The plain and unassuming exterior is in stark juxtaposition with the opulent, Baroque interior. The flamboyant side chapels designated to the eight langues of the Order and the marble tombstones are an expression of the new Baroque style that made its advent in the 17th century. Don’t miss the two works by Caravaggio in the Oratory.
Up next: Mdina: The ancient walled capital.