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Valletta, Malta’s capital, still bears the imprint of the Knights of St. John who built the city from scratch in 1566. The city was erected on a peninsula that juts out into the Grand Harbour, and it’s surrounded by sea on three sides. It was built to withstand a siege by the superpower at the time, the Ottoman Empire, and the heavy defensive structures remain the most visible sight: the high fortifications that girdle the city, the two pentagonal towers that loom over its landfront, and the star-shaped fort at the back of the city. The city is only eight tenths of a mile at its longest span, and it’s bisected along its south-north axis by ...

Valletta, Malta’s capital, still bears the imprint of the Knights of St. John who built the city from scratch in 1566. The city was erected on a peninsula that juts out into the Grand Harbour, and it’s surrounded by sea on three sides. It was built to withstand a siege by the superpower at the time, the Ottoman Empire, and the heavy defensive structures remain the most visible sight: the high fortifications that girdle the city, the two pentagonal towers that loom over its landfront, and the star-shaped fort at the back of the city. The city is only eight tenths of a mile at its longest span, and it’s bisected along its south-north axis by its main thoroughfare, Republic Street. Along this boulevard lie the best sights – the Grand Masters Palace, the National Museum of Archaeology, and St. John’s Co-Cathedral, which is possibly the most ornate church in the world. Other sights are more diffuse, and it’s a pleasure just wandering around and soaking the baroque urban fabric. World War II caused minimal damage – the ugliest legacy of the war is the architecturally-dull square beyond the city gate, rebuilt after destruction – and now Malta’s capital is home to government offices, an assortment of shops, and a clutch of Malta’s best restaurants. Yet the city lies mostly deserted in the evenings, save for a handful of wine bars.

Victor Borg
About the Expert

Victor Borg has authored whole guidebooks to Malta and Gozo for Time Out and Rough Guides, and has contributed to other guidebooks on Libya and China, where he lives.

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Victor Borg for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: The capital and World Heritage site located in the central eastern portion of the island
  • Language: Maltese, English
  • Currency: Euro
  • Research: Wikipedia | Wikitravel
  • Weather: Rainfall
  • Current Time:

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Anytime between November and May when crowds at tourist sights are at their thinnest, and when bars and restaurants are at their liveliest – Maltese don't go to Valletta for entertainment in summers.