Valletta capital city of Malta

Valletta Capital city of Malta

Built by the Knights of St John, Valletta became the capital city of Malta after the the famous Great Siege. Until the arrival of the Knights of St. John in 1530, Mount Sceberras, on which Valletta today stands, was just an arid peninsula, lying between two harbours, the Grand harbour and Marsamxetto harbour. In 1551, a star shaped fort, St Elmo, was built on the tip of the peninsula.

The first foundation stone was laid in 1566 by Grand Master Jean Parisot de Vallette, just eight months after the Great Siege of Malta, naming the city after himself, Valletta. De Vallette’s plan was to build an impregnable fortress, capable to withstand any future attacks, both seaward and landward.

Valletta was planned from scratch, in a grid plan by the personnel architect of Pope Pius V, Lapparelli. Lapparelli, a military engineer, drew up the original plan and soon after he left the island. Girolomo Cassar, a Maltese architect that studied military engineer, took over the construction of Valletta. As soon as the walls of the city, which surrounds the whole peninsula, were finished, Girolomo Cassar started erecting the most important buildings of the city, St John’s Cathedral, Auberges of the Knights, churches, palaces, the Grand Masters Palace and the Sacra Infermeria. From the early 17th century, Valletta had grown into a sizeable city, with hundreds of Maltese flocking to it from the rural towns and villages to live within its fortifications.

From the mid-17th century on wards, Valletta was transformed from an austere mannerist city, into a Baroque city, palaces with richly decorated facades in baroque symbols carved into our stone, churches with graceful facades which adorn the streets of the city and gardens to be used solely by the Knights themselves like Barrakka gardens.

During World War 2, Valletta suffered a lot. Various buildings where hit by enemy action but the city withstood the bombing and in a couple of years it rose back to its former glory.

Today, various 17th and 18th century palaces are being restored to their former glory, as prominent private residences, prime offices or boutique hotels. City gate was totally refurbished by the world renowned Italian architect Renzo Piano, where the new parliament of Malta was built.

Valletta main attractions

St John’s Cathedral

It was the Conventual church of the order of St John. It’s a perfect example of High Baroque opulence and has got one of the most beautiful marble tomb floors in the world. It was re-decorated in 1661 by an Italian artist, Mattia Preti. Inside the oratory one finds the famous Caravaggio paintings, ‘The beheading of St John’ and ‘St Jerome’

Grand Master’s Palace

The main palace of the Grand Master from where the islands where administered. The State Rooms in the Piano Nobile and the Palace Armory are open for the public.

National Museum of Archaeology

Exhibited inside the former Auberge de Provence, one can admire original artifacts from the prehistoric period like the Sleeping Lady from the Hypogeum and other statuettes and original decorations from the Temple period. On the upper floor the Bronze age, Phoenician and Punic section are open for the public

National Museum of Fine Arts

Situated in an 18th century palace, the rooms are filled with objet d’Art from the 15th, 16th, 17th and 18th century. Some artists which their works adorn the palace are of Mattia Preti, Stomer , Carpaccio, Favray and local artists

Fort St Elmo – The National War Museum

Fort St Elmo today it houses the War Museum. It was the first building erected on the peninsula where today stands Valletta and which experienced severe damage and ultimately lost to the might of the Turks of the Ottoman empire during the Great Siege of 1565.

Manuel Theatre

One of the oldest Baroque Theaters in Europe which still houses performances. it was built in 1731 to offer honest entertainment to the young knights.

Casa Rocca Piccola

A house museum, still lived in by Marquis De Piro. Marquis Nicholas De Piro 9th Baron of Budach was one of the first member of the Maltese aristocracy to open his house full of antiques to the public.

Barrakka Gardens

Built on the fortifications, one can enjoy the best panoramic views of the Gran Harbour from its own terrace.

Valletta cruise port

The main buildings were built by Grand Master Pinto in the 18th century as magazines, to store imported goods. Today they house various restaurants which forms part of the Valletta Cruise Port. Close to 700,000 cruise liner passengers visit Malta each year

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