The story of Malta’s capital is inextricably linked with the island’s mythology – after laying Valletta’s foundation stone in 1566 the Knights of St John created an elegant baroque city from an arid, empty peninsula. But, don’t imagine that it’s just a relic of the past. Behind the foreboding fortifications you’ll find a living city that still has plenty of stories to tell, home to groundbreaking contemporary architecture, delicious cuisine and a thriving nightlife scene.
Malta’s capital is brimming with history, splendid Baroque architecture, squares and alleys, traditional wooden balconies, monuments, museums, palaces, forts, bastions, churches and more than its fair share of restaurants, cafés and shops.
Built in 1566 after the Ottoman Empire unsuccessfully invaded the islands, Valletta is inextricably linked to the history of the military Order of the Knights of St John. Inscribed entirely as a UNESCO World Heritage City, its 320 monuments, all within walking distance, make it “one of the most concentrated historic areas in the world. (UNESCO World Heritage site)
The story of the Knights unfolds as you tour the city’s streets and monuments, each representing an aspect of the Knights’ day to day life, their history, mission, intriguing escapades, pageantry and ritual. The numerous Auberges and Fortresses, the splendid Palace of the Grandmaster which houses the armoury of the Knights, the Manuel Theatre, still the oldest theatre in Europe that is still in use today, the Museums of Fine Arts & Archaeology, the Bastion Gardens offering breathtaking views across the harbours, the numerous Churches full of rich works of art, and the imposing squares; these all still stand as a testimony to the unique story of the Knights of St John, who lived and fought within the city that they built, “a city built by gentlemen, for gentlemen.