No description will ever do Valletta justice no matter how much one eulogizes.
If Valletta were a wine it would be the humble local red strong full bodied heady wine, made from grapes grown on the barren hilly slopes and brought to maturity by the strong august sun. A wine that needs to be savored slowly on a warm sunny afternoon to fully appreciate its rugged flavour.
And so is Valletta a city whose motto is “Citta Umilissimma “ but can still stand shoulder to shoulder with any other capital city. A city that was a must visit on any 18/19th century Grand Tour of Europe. Emperors, Kings and Queens, Heads of State, and many other dignitaries, have set foot on the shores of Valletta .
One also cannot forget the vast list of authors, painters, poets and other personalities who sailed into Valletta ’s Grand Harbour. Han Christian Andersen, Edward Lear, Sir Walter Scott, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Alexander Dumas, and Lord Byron are just a few.
Benjamin Disraeli, a future British Prime Minister, visited the city in 1830 and described it as “a city of palaces built by gentlemen for gentlemen,” and remarked that “Valletta equals in its noble architecture, if it does not excel, any capital in Europe,” and in other letters called it “comparable to Venice” and “full of palaces worthy of Palladio.”
Visiting Malta in March 1841, Hans Christian Andersen wrote in his travelogue:
“I ‘ve heard the anchor fall and knew that we were in the harbour of Malta…I had never before seen brilliance, either under the clear sky of Italy nor in our northern winter nights….Valletta and all those proud ships here under the world`s strongest fortress were only the frame for it. The setting was beautifull , one of the most beautifull I have seen.”
Not so long ago Valletta was off the beaten track or even shunned by most visitors who came to Malta simply to soak up the sun. Discerning travelers have however discovered the beauty and charm of this UNESCO world heritage sight – so much history condensed in a peninsula barely 5 kilometers square. A city which has seen kings, emperors, poets and painters, come and go as it stands aloof on a hill enclosed within its fortifications.
What is there to see – magnificent St John’s Cathedral and Museum with the largest painting Caravaggio ever painted, the Manoel theater, Europe’s oldest functioning theater, the Grand Masters’ Palace and armory – the list is never ending. Valletta is also the hub and interconnection point for all buses be it to the Medieval capital Medina, Malta’s beaches or Sliema and St Julians if you enjoy night-life. Getting around the island could not be easier and you certainly do not need car hire if you elect to spend your holidays in Malta’s Capital city. Sliema can also be reached by a 10 min ferry service.
Pavement cafe’s abound along Republic street, a favourite promenading street for the Maltese with its trendy shops. Gourmet restaurants, cafes and wine bars are strewn all over the city.
Valletta Local Council official web site with list of events
We have included some images which are mere labels of what is contained inside. Click on the photo for a larger image.