Valletta, the smallest capital of Europe, was first created as a defensive base for the Knights of the Order of St. John during their important battle against the Ottomans, a war that raged in the 16th Century. After the events of the Great Siege, the Knights developed the city into a stronghold city named after Grand Master La Valette; its location in southern Malta, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, ensured the city was easy to defend against potential invaders. Most of the city’s buildings were built to celebrate the knights’ victory, meaning the architecture of Valletta is amongst the most unique and prestigious in all Europe. A World Heritage Site in its own right, Valletta was heavily damaged during the Second World War (no longer did the enemy attack from the easily defended sea) but through extensive restoration, it still possesses much of its beauty.
Visitors to this small capital city will find many landmarks that reflect the grand ideas of the knights, such as Grandmaster’s Palace, one of the first buildings erected after the Great Siege. It has acted as a seat for government (from the grandmasters of yesteryear to the presidents of modern time) but a select number of its prestigious rooms are open to the public. Another notable attraction is St. John’s Co-Cathedral; a magnificent church originally used as a place of worship for the Knights and has gone through various restorations to recreate the beautiful Baroque style.
With such breathtaking scenery and interesting history, Valletta has finally been recognised and in 2018 it will enjoy the prestigious title of European Capital of Culture. With preparations already underway for a full year of cultural celebration, there is no better time to visit Valletta – a city brimming with authentic Maltese culture and a constantly reinvigorating atmosphere.
Share this article: