Hello, my dear travellers, how are you today? Summer has officially come in Serbia and I have not yet managed to put off all the wardrobe yet, I still have clothes for the entire 4 seasons around the house. What’s your situation? I hope you are doing good on these tropical temperatures, but today I will try to refresh you with the waves from Malta.
Last week, I promised you a new letter from Malta and I will dedicate this post to the capital of this paradise island – Valletta. This post was made in cooperation with the National Tourist Organization of the Republic of Malta – Malta Tourism Authority and its partners, without this project just would not be possible. I hope you will enjoy and learn something new. Before I begin to want to give you a little friendly tip: take some refreshment and some snacks, you’ll need it! There is a lot a lot to be said about this city!
Valletta is the main capital of Malta. Located in the southeast part of the island, between the port of Marsamxett in the west and the Great Port in the east, Valletta is the southernmost capital of Europe. The city itself has about 6000 inhabitants, while the surrounding metropolitan area has a population of just over 400,000. Impressive numbers, right?
The city architecture is of baroque character, with elements of neoclassical and modern architecture, although the Second World War left great scars, especially because of the ruined Royal Opera House. The city was officially recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1980.
The cities fortifications, together with the beauty of Baroque palaces, gardens and churches, have led Europe’s ruling forces to give the city a special nickname “Superbissima” – the Italian word that signifies “The greatest pride.”
During the long and tumultuous history of Malta, it was under various influences. Periods:
- Malta under the leadership of the Order of St. John the Baptist: 1566 – 1798
- Malta as a colony of France: 1798 – 1800
- Protectorate Malta (Part of the Sicilian Kingdom, but under the protection of Great Britain): 1800 – 1813
- Malta as the British colony: 1813 – 1964
- State of Malta (the predecessor of the modern Republic of Malta): 1964-1974
- Republic of Malta since 1974, until today
The city was founded by Jean de Vallette, the Grand Master of the Order of St. John, after a successful defense from the Turks in 1565. An interesting fact is that the streets all over the city are designed to channel the flow of pleasant wind from the main port. Valletta is a masterpiece of the baroque architecture of the 16th century. After the great siege, the knights of the Order decided to build the city. If you want to know more about history of this charming city, you can visit this link.
Pope Pius IV sent his best friend and best architect of that time, Francesco Laparelli, who worked with Michelangelo on construction of Church of St. Peter in Rome, in the great wish to build a city that will be a fortress for the defense of Christianity, but also a cultural masterpiece. Lapareli designed the city in just seven days, leaving the completion of his work to architect Girolamo Cesare.
Baroque Cathedral of St. John is a masterpiece of Girol Cesare. It is also a masterpiece by the Calabrian painter and knight Matia Preti, who decorated the interior of the Cathedral. The cathedral is the sanctuary of the knights of St. John. There is also Karavaggio’s masterpiece-the work of Capturing the head of St. John the Baptist. On the floor are mosaics, in fact tombs of knights. The interior of the cathedral is extremely rich, as opposed to a simple façade. Preti designed intricate carved stone walls and side altars with scenes from the life of John the Baptist.
Paintings on the ceiling look like for an average human eye as three-dimensional images, but when you look better, you can see that the artist wisely created the illusion of three-dimensionality with little help from the shadows. It should be noted that the carving was done directly in-place, instead of being self-engraved, and then subsequently attached to the walls as it used to be at that time. The Maltese limestone from which the cathedral was built is especially suitable for such kind of art carvings.
I have to tell you that the whole marble floor is an entire series of tombs, in which are about 400 knights and officers of the Order. There is also a crypt that contains the graves of great masters like Philippe Villiers de L’Isle-Adam, Claude de la Sengle, Jean Parisot de Valette and Alof de Wignacourt.
The famous Caravaggio masterpiece with a display of the splitting of the head of St. John the Baptist is also the most famous work of art in the church. It is considered one of the Caravagio’s masterpieces, the largest canvas ever painted with the only painting signed by the painter. The painting was restored in the late nineties in Florence, this painting is one of the most imposing applications of Chararoscuro style, which is best known with a circle of light that illuminates the scene of the cut of the head of St. John at the request of Salome.
The Cathedral contains nine rich chapels, one dedicated to Our Lady of Philermos and the rest dedicated to the patron saints of each of the Order’s eight langues. The following chapels are located on the south side of the church:
The Chapel of Our Lady of Philermos, also known as the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament, originally contained an icon of Our Lady of Philermos, which was in possession of the Order since the Crusades. The icon was taken to Russia by Grand Master Ferdinand von Hompesch zu Bolheim when the Order was expelled from Malta in 1798, and now it is found in the National Museum of Montenegro.
Cathedral of St. John is located in the center of Valletta, a short walk from the bus station near the City Gate. The main entrance to the cathedral is located on square St. John, but the entrance for the visitors is from the Great Obsidian Square, which is located in the Republic Street near the main court. The cathedral can be visited every working day and on Saturdays, on Sundays and during the holidays is closed.
We are continue our walk tour through this charming town and soon we come across an unusual park. The Upper Barrakka Gardens was once a private garden of Italian knights. From there, there is a fantastic view of the Great Harbor, the largest and deepest natural harbor in the world, three cities – Vittoriosa, Senglea and Cospicua), as well as in numerous bays and the town of Kalkara.
At the top of the first finger of the bay is Kalkara and the fortress Rikasoli. There was recorded a movie called “Troy”. Next is Vittoriosa. At its top is the Fortress of St. Angelo, the jewel of the Maltese military legacy. On the next finger, Senglea and the Fortress of St. Michael. And between them is the Cospicua. These three cities represent the cradle of Maltese history. In them was the first home of knights when they arrived in Malta.
Below the Upper Gardens of Barrakka is the military cabinet Laskaris. There are tunnels from the 17th century, which during the Second World War were rebuilt into a complex of military rooms. From there, allies planned a deployment to Sicily under the name “Husky”. From the garden you can see the Lower Barrakka Gardens, where is the monument to Alexander Bell, the first British governor in Malta. There is Fort Saint Elmo, nowadays a famous military museum, where faith, one of the three gladiator planes, as well as the baptism of St. George, give Malta for the courage in the Second World War.
In the park there are several monuments dedicated to many prominent figures, including Gerald Strickland, Thomas Maitland and Winston Churchill. In the garden there is a replica of the statue of Les Gavroches (Street Boys) of the Maltese sculptor Antonio Sciortin. The original is in the National Museum of Fine Arts.
The gardens are connected with the lower Valeta valley, where the Lower Gardens of Barrakka and the nearby Lascaris Wharf are located to the Barak lifts. The first elevator on the construction site was built in 1905, but was closed in 1973 and dismantled in 1983. The new elevator was officially opened on December 15, 2012.
What else can I say about this incredible city? Valletta has been declared the European Capital of Culture for 2018. This year was marked by a manifestation called Erba ‘Piazzas (Four Squares), with manifestations that were focused on events in the 4 main squares in the city – Triton Square, St. Gorge, Square St. John and Castille Square.
Valletta is a lovely and irresistible town that will remain for a long time in your heart. You will experience an adventure that you will not forget, and I am sure you will always have enough reasons to return to Valletta and continue your adventure. I am sure that I will return to this city again, there is still a lot things to see, but I have tried to present you my first impression about Valletta.
There is an interesting event – International Festival – Days of Baroque in Valeta is held every year in January. Jazz music in Malta was presented in the Valetta area by Allied sailors during both World War II. The first Maltese Jazz Festival was also held here. My reason for visiting Malta this year was the Malta Fashion Week, which is held every year in May/June. A fashion event that gathers some of the most famous names of the European fashion scene each year.
This year, it was the famous Spanish fashion designer Agatha Ruiz de la Prada, who this year, on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of her first fashion show, opened her Foundation and showed her new Autumn-Winter 2019/20 collection at Malta Fashion Week.
My dear travellers, once again we have come to the end of our travel adventure. Time just flies so fast when you are having a good time! At the end of this post, I would like to thank my friends from Malta Tourism Authority for this incredible adventure and for their huge efforts to make my stay unforgettable and I felt like at home.
How do you like this post about Valletta? Have you ever visited this lovely city? Have you maybe had a chance to visit Malta before? I would like to share with me your experience!
In a couple of days we will continue our adventure in Malta, you will find out more about this island and I will show you my first fashion outfit post which I did in Valletta! It is one simple outfit with the great summer vibe, one of my outfits which I wore for the Malta Fashion Week. I can’t wait to share all those beautiful photos with you.
If you have a question, comment, suggestion or message for me, you can write me down in the comments. Of course, as always you can contact me via mail or social media, which you can find on the CONTACT page.