Country: Malta Language: Maltese Currency: Euro (€)
Valletta is an impressive UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city is filled with limestone architecture, making you feel as if you are walking through a sandcastle! The stunning Valletta Waterfront holds impressive sailboats and remarkable views. Valletta can easily be explored in a day, but you will only just skim the surface of what the city has to offer. An extra day or two could be spent exploring the many museums and laneways that make up the notable city.
CTW Must See
Valletta City Gate
The City Gate, or the ‘Door to the City’ is Valletta's grand entrance. The current gate is made of limestone and steel and was completed in 2014. The first gate to stand here was built in the 1500s; five gates have stood in its place since. From the gate, you’ll have access to Valletta’s main street, which runs straight through to the end of the city. Just though the gate, you’ll see the Parliament House, the Royal Opera House ruins, and a Shopping Arcade.
Upper Barrakka Gardens
The beautiful garden sits beside the city gate and provides exceptional views of the Grand Harbour and the Three Cities behind it. The Grand Harbour is the only natural harbor in the Mediterranean, and the gardens sit at the highest point within the city walls! The Upper Barrakka Gardens were created in 1661 and features many significant monuments. Below the main arcade, you can enjoy the Saluting Battery; it occurs twice a day! Enjoy the show for free or pay a small fee to get access to the cannon grounds.
National Museum of Archaeology
Established in 1958, the museum includes prehistoric artifacts from the Maltese Islands. The National Museum of Archaeology is located within a beautiful Baroque building on the main street of the Old City. When the museum first opened, it also held the Fine Arts collection. However, in 1974, the National Museum of Fine Arts was transferred to the Admiralty House building.
St. John’s Co-Cathedral
Completed in 1577, St. John’s Co-Cathedral was dedicated to John the Baptist. Its facade blends in with the limestone city, but its interior is drastically different. The ornately carved stone walls and the beautifully painted ceiling, along with the side altars displaying scenes from John the Baptist’s life, create a unique setting. St. John’s Co-Cathedral holds nine chapels and many distinguished works of art. Entry to visit the cathedral does require a ticket, which can be purchased at the door.
This small square holds the National Library of Malta, a statue of Queen Victoria, and the side facade of the Grandmaster’s Palace and the Casa del Common Tesoro. The National Library was completed in 1796 and officially opened in 1812. Republic Square is full of outdoor cafes, creating a bustling and energetic square.
St. George’s Square
Also known as Palace Square, this is Valletta’s largest and most important square. Its main feature includes the Grandmasters’ Palace. The Palace is the current Office of the President of Malta. The building was built between the late 1500 and the 1700 using limestone, like the rest of the city. A visit to the palace allows access to the State Apartments and the Palace Armoury. The rest of the square is made up of three Baroque buildings, the Casa del Common Tesoro, the Main Guard Building, and the Hostel de Verdelin.
Basilica of Our Lady of Mount Carmel
The basilica is one of Malta’s largest tourist attractions. It was founded in 1570 and designed by Girolamo Cassar. In the 17th century, its facade was redesigned, as the building was given to the Carmelites. During WWII, the building was severely damaged, so it was rebuilt and completed in 1981. The Basilica of Our Lady of Mount Carmel features a large dome that dramatically enhances Valletta’s skyline!
St. Paul’s Pro-Cathedral
Completed in 1844, the Pro-Cathedral features a neo-classical, limestone facade and a 61 meter tall spire. The spire is its most prominent feature, as the church stands beside the Basilica of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, complimenting its remarkable dome. Between the steeple of St. Paul’s and the gorgeous dome of the basilica, it creates a dramatic and memorable skyline for the city.
Fort St. Elmo
Fort St. Elmo is a star fort at the end of the city. It acted as a working fort from 1552 to 1972, and played a huge role in the Great Siege of Malta, when the Ottomans invaded the island, and also in World War II. Today, the fort has been restored and holds the National War Museum, which contains military equipment from both World Wars.
Lower Barrakka Gardens
The Lower Barrakka Gardens are the twin gardens of the Upper Barrakka Gardens. The lower gardens also provide expansive views of the Grand Harbour and of Valletta’s coastline. From the gardens, you will also get a closeup view of the Siege Bell Memorial. This memorial was built in 1992 to honor the thousands of people who lost their lives during the WWII Siege of Malta. The gardens are quite small, however they provide a peaceful, nature-filled break from the busy limestone Old Town.
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