5 Places To Visit In Valletta Malta

Xceltrip|6 min read|Nov 26, 2019

Valletta is a distinguished city with a legendary past. The UNESCO-listed capital of Malta stands proudly on one of Europe's grandest harbours, surrounded by some of the mightiest fortifications in the world. The city's history is tied to the Knights of Saint John of Jerusalem, an 11th-century order that provided shelter for pilgrims in the Holy Land and took on a military role to defend Christianity. In 1530, the Spanish King, Charles V, gave Malta to the Knights. Once Valletta became the new military fortress of the Order of Saint John, the knights set out to create a capital city equal to Europe's finest. The grand Baroque architecture reflects the knights' stature as aristocrats from the noblest families in England, France, Spain, and other European countries. Valletta is called "a city built by gentlemen for gentlemen." Today, Valletta is a real working city and a fascinating tourist destination packed with cultural attractions. Here are 5 places to visit in Valletta Malta, that we think you ought to see:

Saint John's Co-Cathedral

Saint John's Co-Cathedral reflects the wealth and importance of the Knights of Malta, who protected Europe and the Catholic faith from attacks by the Ottoman Turks in the 16th century. This cathedral, with its opulent, flamboyant Baroque interior, was built as a symbol of the Knights' success. The nave features opulently decorated, ostentatiously gilded walls and gorgeous ceiling paintings by Mattia Preti, Malta's most famous painter. The most renowned artwork in the church is The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist by Caravaggio in the Oratory.

The various chapels of Saint John's Co-Cathedral reflect the different "languages" (regions) of the Knights of Malta who hailed from many different countries in Europe. Among the eight chapels are a few must-see highlights: The Chapel of the Langue of Aragon (the region of Catalonia and Navarre in Spain) features Mattia Preti's painting of Saint George on a white stallion after slaying a dragon. The Chapel of the Language of Italy displays the famous work of Saint-Jerome Writing by Caravaggio.

Address: Saint John's Street, Valletta


Grand Master's Palace


Valletta's most monumental building, the Grand Master's Palace stands in the center of Palace Square, which is often used for traditional ceremonies. Grand Master Fra Pietro del Monte commissioned the palace in the 16th century as a residence for the Knights of Malta. Part of the building is now used as the Presidential Palace, serving as the office for the President of Malta. The rest of the building is open to the public as a museum.

Tourists enter through an impressive courtyard, which leads upstairs to grandiose hallways with lavish 18th-century Baroque ceiling paintings. The enormous State Rooms are richly decorated with gilded moldings and works of art, such as a series of murals that illustrates a complete narration of the Great Siege of 1565. The Hall of the Ambassadors, also known as the "Red Room," is adorned with portraits of the Grand Masters, who led the knights to victory. One of the paintings depicts the dignified-looking Grand Master Jean de Vallette, founder of the city of Valletta.

Address: Palace Square, Valletta


National Museum of Archaeology


The National Museum of Archeology is housed in the former Auberge de Provence, the historic residence of the knights originating from the Provence region in France. The building dates to 1571 and is a wonderful example of Baroque architecture. The Grand Salon is especially noteworthy, with its richly painted walls and wood-beamed ceiling. The museum's exceptional archaeology collection tells the story of Malta through a chronological presentation. Exhibits include prehistoric artifacts and architectural elements found at megalithic sites, as well as ancient Roman objects and medieval antiquities.

The museum is renowned for its Prehistoric collection, an extensive array of artifacts from the Maltese Islands' megalithic temples. These Neolithic-era archaeological finds include 6,000- to 7,000-year-old pottery, ornaments, altars, limestone statuettes, terra cotta bowls, and cult utensils. One room contains models of the five best-preserved temples. The headless "Fat" statues of the Tarxien Temples are displayed here.

Address: Auberge de Provence, Republic Street, Valletta


Manoel Theatre

This magnificent little theatre was commissioned in 1731 by António Manoel de Vilhena, Grand Master of the Knights of Malta, to meet the local demand for operas, pageants, and theatrical performances. With this distinguished heritage, the Manoel Theatre ranks among the oldest theatres in Europe. The lavishly decorated auditorium features gilded box seats and plush velvet chairs. Every seat in the house offers a good view, and the acoustics of the oval room are excellent.

Visitors may take a self-guided tour with an audio guide. There is also an interesting calendar of theatrical events including music concerts and classic opera. For tourists, one of the most delightful things to do in Valletta is to attend an evening performance in this sensational historic setting. In January, the Manoel Theatre hosts a two-week Baroque Festival featuring the music of Vivaldi and Bach.

Address: 115 Old Theater Street, Valletta


Valletta Waterfront

Overlooked by many tourists, the Valletta Waterfront is a popular spot among locals. The elegant Baroque buildings along the Marsamxett Harbour were once used as warehouses. The row of buildings was commissioned in the 18th century by Grand Master Pinto for the purpose of storing goods such as grain, vegetables, and fish. The doors were painted in different colours to indicate the type of contents stored inside; yellow represented wheat, and blue was for seafood. The warehouse buildings have been beautifully restored, and the pathway has been enlarged. Fringed with shady trees and leafy palms, the spacious waterside promenade is lined with trendy restaurants. This is one of the best places to visit in Valletta for an atmospheric meal by the harbour.

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