VALLETTA (PART II)
Let’s take a last stroll through Valletta before we move on to the rest of this beautiful island.
On many days, while visiting Valletta, we could see huge cruise ships docking in the Grand Harbour of Valletta. Passengers always had a steep climb of about 20 minutes to the city center, but an elevator had been built in the meantime which enable passengers an easy ride up to the old town.
A symbol that is very familiar in Malta (probably worldwide), is the Maltese cross. This cross is most commonly associated with the Knights of Malta who have ruled the Maltese islands between 1530 – 1798. We saw the Maltese cross on street names, buildings, jewellery and even on their Euro coins.
As mentioned in our previous post, there are many monuments in Valletta – actually, on almost every corner of Valletta there is some kind of statue or monument.
Here are just a few:
There are many open-air cafés to be found in Valletta, but it was the small restaurants that almost disappeared under ground, that got our attention.
Palace of the Grand Masters:
By Maltese standards, the Palace of the Grand Masters is an enormous building. Only a small part of it is open to the public, as the rest belongs to the parliament.
We entered the Palace through the corridor that was leading to what was formerly the Armoury – a fascinating reminder of the period when the Knights of Malta lead the battlefields.
The British connection are well-represented in the State Dining Room by several royal portraits, like King George IV and Queen Elizabeth II.
The palace encloses two greenery-adorned courtyards. The larger of the two is called the Neptune Court (with its bronze statue of Neptune), while the smaller one is named Prince Alfred Court.
The Palace Armoury:
One of the world’s most significant and impressive permanent exhibitions of pre-18th century weaponry and armour is found in two halls within the palace precincts.
There are extensive exhibits of historic suits of armour – the fine collection of weaponry and armour may round up to 6000 pieces. Here are just a few photos we took inside the Palace Armoury:
A traditional Maltese evening:
During one of our several visits to Valletta, we noticed a guy on Republic Street playing his mandolin and singing beautiful Maltese songs. While buying one of Benny Grima’s CDs, we were invited to attend a typical Maltese Folklore evening … with folklore music and traditional Maltese food – of course we accepted the invitation.
We were fortunate to have a table right in front of the stage and it was great listening to Benny and his wife Tonia singing all the beautiful Maltese songs and enjoying the folklore dances.
While the performers were on stage, we had one of the best plates of Maltese food we tasted while visiting Malta! Stone-baked Maltese bread, olives, cheese and of course pastizzi to just name a few.
We shared our table with Maltese people – some of them emigrated to Australia, but were on a visit to family in Malta. They made an effort to welcome us in their midst and excitingly explained their tradition, like their language, food and music.
For now, it’s goodbye to Valletta!
This the last of our Valletta posts, but in the next one about our Malta visits, we will bring the beautiful Three Cities to you … make sure not to miss it!
We have done these trips in 2011 & 2013