The Maltese Islands of Malta, Comino, and Gozo, are among the most picturesque in the world. Situated in the Mediterranean and sitting between Sicily and Tunisia, the islands all boast a rich heritage and ancient history. The islands are also home to some of the most ancient ruins in the world and, owing to its location, the architecture and local culture shows a great deal of North African influence.
Malta is a popular tourist destination owing to its beautiful landscapes, dotted with palm trees, towns nestled in the hilltops, scorching sunshine, tranquil beaches, and old fishing villages. The island is also home to the Knights of Malta, who became famous in the Medieval world for repelling a Turkish invasion and subsequently launching the crusades. The Maltese language is the official language in Malta.
Here is our Malta Travel Guide:
The capital of Malta is Valletta; from here it is possible to explore the island without the use of a car; there are beautiful walks to take in between most places and also an efficient bus system for which Valetta serves as a centralized hub. Even if you don’t leave Valletta there is plenty to be seen and done here, there are a number of hotels, restaurants, sites of historical interest, and frequent cultural events hosted at a variety of venues.
Historically Valletta was an important seaport, the fortified city was able to repel a numerically superior Turkish army. As the birthplace of the Knights of Malta, whose legacy is very much embedded in the national psyche of Malta, Valletta is seen by many in Malta as symbolic of their grandeur and legacy.
The influence of the Knights can be seen throughout Valletta and the architecture heavily incorporates elements from African, European, Arabic, and Christian cultures. The Knights set about remaking Valletta in an image they saw as fitting their aristocratic status and wealth soon after the Knights were gifted the islands by the King of Spain in 1530. The city they designed was one of the earliest examples of a grid system being used in urban planning, making it very different, in design, from most cities of the time.
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Saint John’s Co-Cathedral: Tours of Valletta can be started at Saint John’s Co-Cathedral, a beautiful 16th-century church which was constructed by Orders of Knights from across Europe, including France, Spain, and Italy. The interior of the church exemplifies some of the finest religious architecture of the time and is a truly awe-inspiring sight.
Silema: A short boat journey across the harbor will bring visitors to Silema, this part of the island tends to attract a younger crowd and hosts more lively entertainment. There is less to be found here in terms of cultural attractions but the nightlife is renowned.
The Island of Gozo
Gozo is often referred to as the most idyllic of the Maltese Islands and is a renowned diving spot. As well as beautiful dive locations off its shores, Gozo is also host to a series of sleepy little towns and pristine beaches. There is enough to see and do on the island of Gozo to justify an extended stay and, while the island is still less developed than Malta, it still clearly shows its ancient fortifications. Azure Window was one of the most famous attractions on the island of Gozo, before it collapsed, earlier this year, due to a heavy storm.
Most of the island consists of similar scenery to Malta with rolling hills, small villages and farms dotted across them. The real attraction on Gozo island, however, has to be the dive sites which are accessible from its beaches. The North West of the island features cave networks, underwater caverns, reefs, and a number of tunnels and arches to explore. On the islands southside, on the other hand, divers have access to a number of shipwrecks, regardless of one’s skill level. If diving is your thing then click here for a list of diving sites in Malta.
The town of Rabat is host to a great deal of the history that is to be found on the island of Malta, visitors can see both Rabat and its neighboring city of Mdina in a single day. Between them both there are a lot of examples of classical architecture to be seen, in particular, the Roman villa, also known as Domus Romana. There is also the Parish Church of St. Paul which is a 17th century Church built in the Baroque style. Rabat is also host to the Wignacourt Museum which houses an impressive display of Punic and Roman artifacts, the likes of which are rarely seen elsewhere.
About the author: Elena is an enthusiastic diver who has extensive experience diving off the Maltese coast. She also writes travel articles for atlantisgozo.com.