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City of Valletta Malta: A Historical Journey through a Modern European Capital

As you step onto the sun-kissed cobblestones of Valletta, the capital city of Malta (Valletta - Wikipedia), you are instantly plunged into a swirling blend of medieval antiquity and modernity. This city, with its sublime fusion of old and new, is a must-visit destination for history buffs, foodies, and shopaholics.


Activity and tour suggestions at the bottom of this blog post...



Hilly streets of Valletta looking up Tirq ir-Repubblika (Republic Street).
Hilly streets of Valletta looking up Tirq ir-Repubblika (Republic Street).

Be prepared, the City of Valletta Malta is hilly, and the cobblestone streets provide a very uneven surface for walking. The sidewalks, where they exist are also paved with larger stones that have also become uneven in places. So, bring good hiking shoes with good ankle support, you will thank me.

 

Valletta, named after the Grand Master La Valette of the Order of St. John who led the islands to victory over the Turks in 1565, is a city steeped in history, a splendid exhibition of Baroque architecture and ancient fortresses. Something to see around every corner and down every street. The city's heart throbs with stories of knights, sieges, and royalty. Every nook and alley whispers tales of the past, making it an open-air museum. But beyond these whispers of bygone eras, Valletta is also a vibrant modern European capital.



White dome covering and protecting the excavation of the massive stone structures of Hagar Qim, Malta.
White dome covering and protecting the excavation of the massive stone structures of Hagar Qim, Malta.

I highly recommend that you book at least one tour of the City of Valletta Malta and one tour outside of Valletta – you will quickly find that there is as much to see in the city of Valletta as there is outside the city. I book tours through The BEST Valletta Tours and Things to Do in 2024 - FREE Cancellation | GetYourGuide and Valletta Tours with Local Private Tour Guides (toursbylocals.com). Since there is so much to see and do in Valletta and on Malta, I highly recommend you do your research and choose your specific activities and tour.


Massive prehistoric stone structures under the white protective dome at Hagar Qim, Malta.
Massive prehistoric stone structures under the white protective dome at Hagar Qim, Malta.

What are your “Must See” places and “Must Do” activities? Make sure the tour you select includes your must-see and must do places and activities. You could spend an entire day simply touring the prehistoric sites, like Hagar Qim and Mnajdra. Do your research at: Ħaġar Qim and Mnajdra Archaeological Park - Heritage Malta.


For your tours outside of Valletta, make sure you go to the beautiful citadel of Mdina (Mdina (the Silent City) and Rabat travel guide and insider tips (maltauncovered.com)). This ancient, fortified city was considered the capital of the island until the Knights of St. John arrived around 1530. They decided the capital should be in the Grand Harbour area, in or near the location of present-day Valletta.


Mdina city gate and bridge over green area (former moat area) below the fortress walls of Mdina, Malta.
Mdina city gate and bridge over green area (former moat area) below the fortress walls of Mdina, Malta.

Mdina remained an important city and following a devastating earthquake in the late 1690’s, rebuilding began in the 1720’s which added pedestrian green areas inside the walls and below the walls. The layout and reconstruction of the streets essentially remained medieval. The BEST Mdina Tours and Things to Do in 2024 - FREE Cancellation | GetYourGuide.

 


The City Gate of Valletta at the top of Republic Street, with the walls continuing on either side of the gate surrounding the Old City of Valletta, Malta.
The City Gate of Valletta with the walls continuing on either side of the gate.

From the ancient ramparts of the

city of Valletta Malta, which you can be access near the City Gate and at the other end of Triq ir-Repubblika (Republic Street) – one of the main streets through the old town of Valletta - you can witness the breathtaking view of the Grand Harbour (or Marsamxett Harbour) from Fort St. Elmo (Fort Saint Elmo - Wikipedia). Don’t forget to take in the National War Museum, on the lower level of Fort St. Elmo.

 


The walls of Fort St. Elmo in Valletta, location of the National War Museum at the end of Republic Street toward the harbor.
The walls of Fort St. Elmo in Valletta, location of the National War Museum

This is one of the most exceptional natural harbors in the world. Dive into the city's deep-rooted history by visiting the impressive St. John's Co-Cathedral (Home - St John's Co-Cathedral (stjohnscocathedral.com)), home to Caravaggio's masterpiece – "The Beheading of Saint John."

 

Also worth exploring is the Grand Master's Palace (Grand Master’s Palace - Heritage Malta), the former seat of power for the Knights of St. John. Its opulent rooms and lush gardens are a testament to Malta's illustrious past. Don't forget to visit the underground labyrinth of the War Rooms, where the defense of the island was masterminded during WWII.


The front door of Casa Ellul, a beautiful welcoming boutique hotel at 81, Old Theater Street, VALLETTA VLT1429, MALTA, in the old town of Valletta a short walk to all the major attractions.
Front door of Casa Ellul, a beautiful welcoming boutique hotel in Valletta Malta

As you can tell, the city of Valletta Malta has a lot to see and do. I highly recommend that you choose a hotel in the old city or as close as you can get to it. On my stay in Valletta, I discovered a small, boutique hotel, originally a Victorian-period Palazzo, with an excellent restaurant and cozy interior garden area. The Casa Ellul hotel (Boutique Hotel Valletta, Malta| Valletta Hotels| Casa Ellul), with nine beautifully appointed suites, is the converted and renovated family home of the owners/managers Matthew and Andrew Ellul, one is usually on-site every day. Make Casa Ellul your place to stay in Valletta, Malta and enjoy the impeccable service and great food.



A group of people sitting at tables outside on a street in the old city of Valletta, Malta. Numerous bars, pubs, and restaurants in Valletta.
People sitting at tables on a street in the old city of Valletta, Malta. Numerous bars, pubs, and restaurants in Valletta.

But Valletta is not just about history. The city also offers a cosmopolitan vibe with its bustling streets lined with trendy boutiques, cafes, and restaurants. With its fantastic range of high-fashion shops, Valletta presents a delightful shopping experience. As the sun dips down, the city's entertainment scene comes alive with music, dance, and theatre performances, garnishing your historical journey with a touch of modernity.

 

To complement your exploration, Malta's gastronomic scene deserves a mention. From traditional pastizzi (savory pastry) shops to high-end restaurants serving Mediterranean delicacies, every corner of Valletta promises a culinary adventure. For the adventurous, try one of the Maltese national dishes, Rabbit Stew, also known as fenkata or stuffat tel-fenek (Fenkata | Traditional Stew From Malta, Western Europe | TasteAtlas), a traditional dish that dates back to the Knights of St. John.



Old Theater Street (Triq tat-Teatru l-Antik) off Republic Street (Triq ir-Repubblika) at the top of the hill in old city of Valletta, Malta.
Old Theater Street (Triq tat-Teatru l-Antik) in Valletta, Malta.

So, embarking on a journey to Valletta not only means stepping back in time but also experiencing the thrill of a modern European capital. It's indeed a city where history meets modernity, and the past fuses seamlessly with the present.

 

Whether you are a history enthusiast, a shopping addict, or a food lover, Valletta – Malta's captivating capital, awaits you with its myriad charms. Are you ready to embark on this awe-inspiring journey?

 

If you wish to explore more about Malta's rich history and vibrant lifestyle, subscribe to my blog or complete the contact form on the website at: Wanderlust Encounters | lifestyle blog). To the best of my ability, I promise to help and guide you through every step of planning your journey!

 

Beautiful statue and shrine on the corner of two streets in Mdina, Malta.
Beautiful statue and shrine on the corner of two streets in Mdina, Malta.

This blog focused on my experiences of the City of Valletta Malta. While visiting Malta, I had several opportunities to explore areas and sites away from Valletta. I’ll cover those experiences in one of my next blogs.


There I’ll introduce you to several prehistoric sites that pre-date even the appearance of the Knights of St. John, in the early 1500's. We will also explore the fortress city of Mdina, once the capital of Malta.


As you can tell, there is much to see and do on Malta.

 





Remember...


Malta isn't just a destination; it's an experience waiting to be encountered and immersed into.


Let's start this adventure together!

 

You will love it!!!

 

 

To help you explore and encounter Valletta, Malta, here are a few activity and tour ideas brought to you by my friends at Viator.





 

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