Valletta is the fortified capital city of Malta, and a World Heritage site. This is a stunning city and would make for a fascinating trip for any history buffs out there. This is because, the first thought that comes to mind when thinking of this city is that it is a place which is steeped in rich history spanning hundreds of years, across the many leaders and military powers who have been in control of the islands over the years.
Knights of St. John
This capital city came into existence thanks to the Knights of St John, under Grandmaster Jean Parisot de la Valette who came to Malta at around 1530. Interestingly Malta was the very first place the Order could call home after numerous years of wandering the Mediterranean in the name of Christianity.
This famous city came about because La Valette, who was the grandmaster at the time quickly realised that if the Order was going to retain its grasp on Malta, it had to build adequate defenses. Hence, he drew up a plan for a late Renaissance Valletta, Malta, consisting of a grid system within fortified and bastioned city walls, on what was a mostly vacant lot in between the island’s two natural harbours, known as the Marsamxett and Valletta harbours.
The new city was to be called Valletta in honour of the grandmaster La Valette. What’s extremely interesting about Valletta is that it came to resemble an Italian religious community, as well as aspects of North African and Ottoman influences that the knights had seen on their journeys.
For centuries, this new city has been known for its deep moats and impenetrable bastions which were a point of great strategic importance. It is also truly a treasure trove of architectural splendour containing a vast array of elaborate baroque buildings, lush palaces, majestic fortifications, magnificent churches, grand theatres and striking gardens.
The British Era
The second significant power to take control of Malta was the British, who came at around 1800. They too left their stamp on the island and this was a very momentous era in Maltese history. Malta became an important part of the British Empire due to its strategic position in the region, and because it was the first step in Britain’s expansion to the East. This is because it is no secret that Malta played a vital role in the Mediterranean theatre of war. The British Empire ruled over Malta for over 150 years, so it is no surprise that a large proportion of Maltese culture has been British overtones. As a result, the British legacy still lives on in many elements of daily life in Malta today. Walking through the capital, Valletta, you’ll come across shops and cafes with British names that date back to last century. Interestingly, although the main boulevards and churches look unmistakably Italian, the corners tend to consist of red English phone boxes or mail boxes.
Book a Suite
Visit Palazzo Jean Parisot: Boutique Hotel in Malta to get a closer look at Valletta, and a chance to experience the beauty of this city. Enjoy breakfast on the Palazzo’s roof terrace, as you take in the unparalleled view over the Grand Harbour, to Fort St Angelo and the historic Three Cities.