MALTA (2)


VALLETTA (PART I)

Valletta – the capital of Malta and a place that is best explored on foot. A city that offers something for every taste … baroque palaces, many-many churches, intriguing streets, spectacular sea/harbour views and many open-air cafés. 

Seeing Valletta from the sea-side. A Maltese water taxi was our transport from Senglea to Valletta

There are around 28 churches just in Valletta (a combination of churches, chapels, basilicas and the Co-Cathedral) … when walking somewhere in Valletta, you’re guaranteed to find a church.

Looking down (and up) a street in Valletta with the impressive Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in the distance

When you enter Valletta from the Grand Harbour area, you will do so by entering through the Victoria Gate – built by the British in 1885 and named after Queen Victoria.

Entering Valletta through the Victoria Gate
A statue of Queen Victoria stands in front of the National Library of Malta in Republic Square

Eight streets run dead straight for most of the peninsula’s length, crossed by narrow, stepped streets. It is such a beautiful sight, you would want to take photo’s around every corner …

We’ve been to the Upper Barracca Gardens a couple of times from where you have spectacular views over the harbour. This is a 17th century parade ground of the Italian Knights which consists of a wide collection of monuments.

The perfect place to get a cup of coffee (or ice-cream in our case) and enjoy the view …
… or just having a chat with good old friends

In Valletta, there is no shortage of tiny corner shops and boutiques shoulder to shoulder (of course, with the occasional church in between). You will be able to find so many wall/street decorations and statues, that you would want to spent a couple of hours here … and maybe come back on another day as well.

A tiny corner shop in Valletta
You can’t miss the British influence here …

We’ve visited a couple of churches in Valletta (later in this post, we will show a few pictures of the inside of St John Co-Cathedral). It was however, the entrance to the Church of St Barbara that caught our eye.

In Republic Street, you will find the Church of St Barbara where Catholic services are held

When we’ve visited Malta for the first time (2011), we were fortunate to still enjoy a ride in the old Maltese busses … yes, it was tremendously slow, but the Maltese bus drivers were colourful guys and always ready for a chat. This was quite an experience and something we won’t easily forget!

The old Maltese buses (now, long gone)
Triton Fountain at the bus station in Valletta

Some of the walkways in Valletta was, to say the least, just extraordinary! Sometimes we just had to stop, look up and be overwhelmed …

What an amazing walkway

THE GREAT SIEGE OF MALTA

There are so many museums to visit while in Valletta. We’ve decided to visit the Great Siege of Malta. This was one of the most savagely contested encounters of the 16th century (1565) where a vast Ottoman fleet (about 40,000 men) attempted to invade Malta.

The Knights were heavily outnumbered with a mere 700 men and around 8,000 Maltese regular troops.

The entrance to the museum of The Great Siege of Malta

The Grand Master, Jean Parisot de la Valette, head of the Order of the Knights, decided not to deploy his men on the beaches to face the attack, but instead, he organised his defence from within the fortifications.

After almost 4 months, this blood-thirsty war ended after the Turks were finally forced to withdraw. It is documented that towards the end of this siege, Grand Master Valette ordered all Ottoman prisoners to be executed and their heads used as ‘cannon balls’ to fire back towards their compatriots in St Elmo (the entrance of the Grand Harbour) … yes, indeed a bloody story!

Here are some photo’s, taken inside the museum:

The Great Siege of Malta
A scene of a heavy battle

ST JOHN’S CO-CATHEDRAL

After witnessing this bloody war, it was definitely time to seek for a much calmer environment … we therefore took a walk towards the impressive St John’s Co-Cathedral.

The facade of St John’s Co-Cathedral is plain, but inside it’s sumptuous beyond belief

This cathedral, completed in 1578, was granted status as the Co-Cathedral together with Mdina’s Cathedral by Pope Pius VII in 1816.

The inside of St John’s Co-Cathedral (unfortunately we were not allowed to use a flash while taking pictures), but I’m sure you can still have that overwhelming impression by just looking at this picture

The cathedral is dedicated to John the Baptist, patron saint of the Order, and is regarded as the finest work of Maltese architect Gerolamo Cassar.

Towards the front of the cathedral

The oil-painted ceiling, the masterpiece of Mattia Preti, depicts 18 episodes in the life of John the Baptist.

Looking up towards the ceiling – just beautiful
The paintwork was done by Mattia Preti, an Italian painter

After walking through this magnificent cathedral, we’ve needed a break – and I’m pretty sure you too!

We will continue our tour of Valletta in our next post (then we will show you a palace and a traditional Maltese evening) … see you then!

We have done these trips in 2011 & 2013

Categories: South African Break Aways

19 comments

  1. What splendid photos bringing back fond memories of our own visit to Valletta. We used the local buses each day to get around. They were indeed very slow because of the narrow roads but very cheap. I recall falling asleep on them with the stop start motion but fortunately our resort was at a terminus so we didn’t miss our stop!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you Marion – isn’t it amazing how photo’s bring back great memories! Yes, those buses were indeed SLOW (the old ones even more so). We’ve also made use of them on our first visit (and I do remember them being very cheap), but the second time we got brave and rent a car 😉.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What a fascinating look of Malta! We have never been there! I loved the buses…….why did they get rid of them? Cady

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh Cady, you will love this small island! I’m not quite sure about the buses, there were so many stories doing the rounds at that time … it might be that the buses were just really very old and difficult to manoeuvre in the narrow streets. During our first visit, we’ve moved to the new buses and they were indeed more comfortable, but we’ve missed the flair of the old ones ☺️.

      Like

  3. You’re really ‘selling’ Valetta well in this post, it certainly makes me want to visit! I have very tentative plans for next May or the year after so maybe I will get there. The cathedral interior is stunning! It’s great that you’re allowed to take photos at all and I understand why they would say no flash, as it can feel intrusive if people are praying.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ahh Sarah, we just fell in love with this beautiful island – I’m sure you will too! And yes, we were quite surprised that we were actually allowed to take photo’s inside the cathedral (so, no complains really about not being allowed to use a flash) … you must see this cathedral in person to appreciate the greatness of the work done here!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. What an amazing place to see! All of it was so beautiful but that cathedral…..I’m speechless!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Happy memories 🙂 We used the buses as well to get about the island (the old ones) and maaan did they take hours to get anywhere 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Hi, Corna, I’m salivating! The architecture, statues, cathedrals, narrow streets, & incredible history makes me want to get on a flight today! Thanks for sharing another wonderful description of Malta! 🌞

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ahh Lisa, I’m so glad you liked the post! I hope you will “survive” the rest of our Malta series 😉.
      But you’re right, Malta has so many beautiful things to explore that the only way to experience this, is to get on a plane and go and see for yourself … hopefully soon!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Hello again Corna,

    I wondered why you had appeared on my Malta pages and it all makes sense now! This is a great page and, as was mentioned above, it brought back some great memories for me as well. Sadly, by the time I got there, the old buses were no more. They still had a couple on the roads doing tourist excursions but that really isn’t my thing. I cannot wait to read more about your trip(s).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Fergy. So good to hear from you again! I’ve posted comments on your Sri Lanka posts, but never heard from you … thought you disappeared, but here you are again 😊.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Not at all. My notices or comments or whatever you call them have been playing up. I have just sent my mate Malc a message as he wrote saying exactly the same thing, that he had commented on some of my posts but I never saw anything.

        I know what the problem is, technology hates me which is fine as I hate it as well!

        Liked by 1 person

    • Sorry, I was actually still busy with that reply before hitting the send button accidentally 😊. Now I’ve seen I’m a whole series of Canada posts behind … that will take me some time!
      Anyway, back to Malta – yes, that was two amazing trips. We still talk a lot about our time there and how much we’ve enjoyed the island. Loved the vibe the old buses brought with them – everything was so relaxed (well, very relaxed because it took ages to get to your destination!)
      I certainly hope you will enjoy the next few posts about our Malta visits.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Oh it looks amazing, thank you for your wonderful description and history 💖😘

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply to moragnoffke Cancel reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: