As the capital city of the small island of Malta, Valletta is Europe’s smallest capital city; but punches well above its weight for culture, cuisine and history. Valletta is easily one of Europe’s most beautifully designed capitals, with the centre of the city enclosed in bastion walls that date back to the 16th Century.
As you walk through the older parts of the city, you can be forgiven for thinking you are walking through a television or movie set, as Valletta has been used countless times as a backdrop to historical dramas and fantasy films. Valetta’s unique architecture and Malta’s year-round warm climate make Valletta an attractive place to live or for a vacation, and every year more and more people are buying property in Valletta to use as a vacation home or as a place to retire.
Though small in size, Valletta and the island of Malta have a huge amount to offer fans of architecture, food and culture, and in this quick guide we are going to show you three of the most important historic properties you can visit in the city.
Republic Street, Strada Rjali District, Valletta
A great way to see the diverse architecture that Valetta has on offer, as well as to sample some of the best street food in the Mediterranean, is to take a stroll down Republic Street.
The mostly pedestrianised street is one of Malta’s most important cultural areas, with many of Valetta’s and Malta’s government and commercial buildings situated on its picturesque plazas. The street is over half a mile long, and has a number of meeting places as well as beautifully landscaped squares where significant buildings like the Courts of Justice, Royal Opera House and The Malta Chamber of Commerce can be found.
Taking in all the sights of Republic Street can be a full day out, and you will be well catered for by the street’s numerous cafés and some fantastic restaurants on the boulevards and side streets.
St John’s Co-Cathedral, Central Valletta
Valletta’s Cathedral, St John’s Co-Cathedral in the centre of the city, is one of the largest and most dominant structures in the city, and houses within it one of Europe’s greatest Baroque treasures.
Construction began on the Roman Catholic Cathedral in 1572, and has been maintained and refurbished on many occasions throughout the centuries since. In the 17th Century, the Cathedral received its most important feature of all – its intricate and ornate Baroque interior. This addition has been carefully and lovingly maintained for hundreds of years, and has become one of Malta’s most popular tourist attractions.
The Cathedral is also an important part of Maltese history, having played a role in every era since its construction, including suffering damage from an aerial assault in the Second World War.
The Grand Master’s Palace, Central Valletta
The Grand Master’s Palace in Valletta, often simply referred to as ‘the Palace’, has been the home of Malta’s rulers and governments since the 16th Century.
Officially, the Palace is now known as the Governor’s Palace, and houses the Office of the President of Malta where many of the Maltese government’s business is conducted. Parts of the palace are open to the public, but as an historical tourist attraction. Here you can visit the Palace Armory and the Palace State Rooms, as well as walk around the historic building and admire its ‘Mannerist’-style exterior and ornate courtyards.
The courtyards of the palace also offer some architectural delights of their own, including the clock tower of Prince Alfred’s courtyard. This clock was commissioned in 1745, yet local legend insists it is much older and was perhaps brought from the Greek island of Rhodes by the original Knights of Malta when they settled on the island in 1530.
The city of Valetta is rich with history and architecture and makes a fantastic vacation destination, or a place to consider living in retirement.
Malta’s location in the Mediterranean gives it a warm climate all year around, with scorching summers that bring tourists from across Europe to sample its food and culture. This gives the island excellent transport links to the rest of Europe, with some of the continent’s countries less than an hour or two away. If you are thinking of visiting Europe, or perhaps making a move there, you should definitely consider making a trip to Malta and its beautiful capital city, Valletta.