Malta

History

The long and rich History of Malta is the result of the inhabitants like the Phoenicians, the Carthaginians, the Romans and the Byzantines who have all occupied Malta at some point in history. As a result visitors can visit many different architectural artifacts.

Great Britain formally acquired possession of Malta in 1814. The island staunchly supported the UK through both World Wars and remained in the Commonwealth when it became independent in 1964. A decade later Malta became a republic. Since about the mid-1980s, the island has transformed itself into a freight transhipment point, a financial centre, and a tourist destination. Malta became an EU member in May 2004.

Economy

Major resources are limestone, a favourable geographic location, and a productive labour force. Malta produces only about 20% of its food needs, has limited fresh water supplies, and has few domestic energy sources. The economy is dependent on foreign trade, manufacturing (especially electronics and pharmaceuticals), and tourism. Continued sluggishness in the European economy is holding back exports, tourism, and overall growth.

Since January 2007 Malta uses the Euro for payments.

The 5 unmissable sights of Malta

Cathedral of St. John The Cathedral of Saint John is the most impressive church in Malta, designed by the architect Gerolamo Cassar, and built between 1573 – 1578 as a convent for the Knights of the Order of St. John. This building is characterized by a strong contrast between exterior and interior, for if the facade appears particularly simple and decorated only by two twin bell towers, the interior is gorgeous and rich treasures in Maltese style. Next to the Cathedral there is the museum of the same name, which has valuable works. Especially the famous “Beheading of St. John the Baptist”, made by Caravaggio in 1608 and the “Saint Jerome”, another work of the Lombard. Inside the museum to be admired there is also a beautiful collection of Flemish carpets. The cathedral of St. John is in Valletta.

The Grand Harbour One of the most beautiful sights of Malta is that of the Grand Harbour and the Three Cities seen from the “Upper Barrakka Gardens” , the manicured gardens with stunning open views in Valletta.

Grand Master’s Palace This palace, now home to the Parliament, was built by Grand Master Peter Del Monte, the work of the palace started in 1571 by Jerome Cassaro, who built it in without excessive decorations. Of great impact is the Tapestry Room, decorated with ten o’clock tapestries depicting the new world, made by Le Gobelin Blondel based on some drawings in possession of Louis XIV. The room was used in the past as the headquarters of the Knights of the assembly, and, for a the short time, the Maltese Parliament, before being closed in order to preserve the tapestries. Other rooms Noteworthy are the Room of St. Michael and St. George, for the meetings of the Grand Council, the Yellow Room, used by the Order and the Ambassador’s Room or Red Room, covered with red carpet and used to receive the ambassadors. This room contains several portraits of nobles and dignitaries, including Catherine II of Russia, Louis XVI by Antoine Callet, Frederick Langreve and others. You will find Grand Master’s Palace in Valletta.

Fort St. Elmo and War Museum This majestic fort is located on the southern most tip of Valletta. This fort was built by the Knights of the Order, in 1552, to protect the access to the sea. The fort was subject to a great destruction in 1565 by the Turkish army. Over the years it has been rebuilt several times and expanded. Inside the fort you will find the National Museum of the Wolrd War II, opened in 1975. In the museum you can see the story of World War II from the point of view of the Maltese and Malta. On exposition are films and photographs of the war period, as well as relics and remnants of war. The path inside the museum culminates with exposure of the cross of St. George, delivered in 1942 to the people of Malta. For lovers of story of the war, we recommend a visit to the Lascaris War Rooms, which is the salt of the Lascaris War, cave rooms in the depths of Lascaris Bastion.

The three cities Vittoriosa, Cospicua and Seglea are the so-called “three cities” (originally Birgu, L-Isla and Boermla). Are places less touristy and far from the busy city Valletta. They are located just a few kilometers away from the Maltese capital Valletta and together they make up the spectacular Grand Harbour Malta. The city with most attractions is definitely Vittoriosa, full of historical monuments and streets preserved in original state of the times of the Knights of Malta. Vittoriosa is also famous because it is the city that welcomed the first Knights when they landed on the island in 1530.

Other possible destinations

Gozo Historically, the island has always been distinct from Malta regarding the history, traditions and events. A lower population density and a slower process of urbanization have contributed to the quiet and relaxed, atmosphere. In Gozo, wherever you look, you realize that the sea is never more than a stone’s throw away. The coast of Gozo is composed of narrow inlets, red sandy beaches, turquoise water bays.

Comino Situated between Malta and Gozo, Comino is a paradise for snorkelers, windsurfers, divers and hikers. The Island of the Blue Lagoon allows an idyllic boat trip with the opportunity to swim in its turquoise waters. Carefree and car-free, Comino is a place to be at rest throughout the year.

On the shore of northern Malta is you can visit the most popular beach resorts and holiday areas. The most with popular beaches are Mellieha Bay, Ghajn Tuffieha and Golden Bay. You wil find here cafes, restaurants and kiosks. On the northwest shore you will find quiet beaches.

Catacombs of St. Paul The Catacombs of Saint Paul represent the typical complex of connected underground Roman cemeteries. The catacombs, in use until the 4th century AD, are situated on the outskirts of Mdina, the old Roman capital of Malta, as Roman law prohibited burials within the city.

Hal Saflieni Hypogeum The Hal Saflieni Hypogeum, a UNESCO heritage site, is an underground complex carved into the rock that was used both as a sanctuary for burials by the builders of the temple. It was discovered during construction work in 1902. The three underground levels go back to the years between 3600 and Approximately 2400 BC. The monument is considered one of the most valuable prehistoric monuments of the world.

Where to shop

Malls The newest shopping center of the island is located in Sliema and is called The Point. Fifty shops spread over three floors offering the best known international brands, such as Guess and Tommy Hilfiger, Adidas, Bata, Mango, Esprit, Lacoste and Massimo Dutti.

Then there is the Embassy Complex in Valletta and the two craft centers, the Ta’Qali of Mdina, Malta, and the Ta’Dbiegi of San Lawrenz, Gozo, where the products are made and sold on site. Here an hangar of the Second World War and the abandoned barracks have been converted into laboratories for the construction of souvenirs! Other places where you can buy local handicrafts are the Malta Government Crafts Centre in Valletta, and the Gozo Gozo Crafts Centre in the citadel of Victoria.

Shops and shopping At Valletta Republic Street and Merchants Street, in Tas-Sliema Tower Road, Bisazza Street and Strand; in the center of Paola Town; Ħamrun in the High Street, Mosta in the city center, in Gozo area of Victoria.

More infromation:

  • Visit Malta – Official Malta Tourism Authority (MTA) site for Information about holidays in Malta, Gozo and Comino. [English, French, Italian, Japanese]
  • Lonely Planet – Malta – Comprehensive facts and advice for traveling along with background material on the culture and history of the country.
  • Malta Sights – A brief guide to the islands for tourists, with tourist tips and advice and images of the island.
  • Travel.State.Gov – Malta – Offers travel information including Quick Facts, embassies and consulates, entry and exit requirements, safety and security, local laws, health, transportation and Fact Sheet. From the U.S. Department of State.
  • World Travel Guide – Malta – Tourist and business travel information with facts on climate, visa, health, passport, currency and customs requirements.

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