MALTA’S CAPITAL CITY
Valletta was declared a Unesco World Heritage city in 1980 and European Capital of Culture 2018
With its magnificent baroque architecture and floodlit bastions, numerous beautiful churches, palaces and lively people, Valletta is a delightful city. It’s slightly faded glory and its narrow side streets, its Grand Harbour will all remain imprinted in your memory long after your holiday in Malta. The Knights’ official name for the city was “Humilissima Civitas Vallettæ” (Most Humble) but the ruling houses of Europe rightly gave it its nickname “Superbissima” (Most Proud).
Click on the Valletta 2018 logo for a programme of events.
“Valletta is a Mediterranean Naples, a lovely mix of baroque architecture and expressive hand gestures”
SIMON AND CATHERINE, VALLETTA G-HOUSE GUESTS
After the Order of St John was ousted out of Rhodes, they first settled in Vittoriosa, as they tried to recreate the way of life they had there. It was only with the unexpected vistory over the Ottoman Empire in the Great Siege of 1565 that Grandmaster La Valette decided their was an anvantage to the peninsula of Mount Sciberras.
Grateful for the knights victory, the Pope in Rome sent his own architect Laparelli to help design the new city. The design saw a rigid grid plan of uniformly designed houses dotted with palaces, baroque churches and squares. There were to be eight auberges, one for each language in the Order, a Grand Master’s palace “as large as Palazzo Farnese in Rome”, a conventual church and a hospital. The building started in 1566 with the church of Our Lady of Victoria.
Gerolamo Cassar continued where Laparelli left off. Combining the two architects work, Valletta remains the beautiful and elegant baroque city they envisaged. Valletta suffered greatly with World War II as well as in the hands of successive governments who perhaps could have done more to maintain it.
In the last decade, people returned to Valletta, they restored old houses and palaces. Restoration on the fortifications and public buildings started in earnest and a new entrance to the city designed by renowned architect Renzo Piano came into being. With 2018 and the European City of Culture title looming, Valletta is having a renaissance.
BARS & RESTAURANTS
A series of 18th century baroque stores and warehouses have been beautifully restored and now house various restaurants, and cafes with a view over the Grand Harbour.
The companies who create the floats all hail from Valletta. February sees the fruit of their year long labours. The festival dates back to the Knights and occurs before Lent.