Valletta or Il-Belt is the tiny capital city of Malta. This walled city was established in the 1500’s on a peninsula by the Knights of St. John, a Roman Catholic order. The city is well known for its beautiful Palaces, Grand Churches and Museums. The entire city of Valletta is a UNESCO Heritage Listed Site due to its intense history, which includes the Baroque landmark of St. John’s Co-Cathedral, with its opulent interior and home to the Caravaggio Masterpiece. 'The Beheading of Saint John'. Not just a place for worship the Cathedral also houses exuberant works of art. Its interior can best be described as a characterisation of wealth with its gilded rooms and arched ceilings, which boast paintings that have been donated by the Grand Masters and Knights themselves.
The Church of Our Lady of Victory dates back to the Great Siege of 1565. It marks the Knights’ victory over the Turks and was the first Church to be built in Valletta. The Church was the original burial place of Grand Master La Vallette, however his remains were later moved to St. John’s Co-Cathedral. In 1617 the Church became Valletta’s main Parish Church of the Order.
The tranquil area of the Valletta Waterfront was originally built by Grandmaster Pinto for the Knights of St. John. Today it is home to the Valletta Cruise Port boasting unique shops, restaurants and a stunning promenade where you can just sit and while away the day.
Located on Valletta’s main Republic Street, the Auberge de Provence was built in 1571 and was once the main house of the Knights of the Order of St. John. Today the grand building is the base for Malta’s National Museum of Archaeology. Here you will find artefacts that date back to 5000 B.C. from Malta’s Neolithic and Phoenician period. The main attractions are a carved figurine of the Sleeping Lady, originally unearthed at Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum and bronze daggers from the Tarxien Temples and the Horus and Anubis pendant from the Phoenician period.
The Upper Barrakka Gardens are by far the most commonly visited site while in Valletta. They are situated on the highest point of the capital’s bastions, from where you will have the most stunning and iconic views over the Grand Harbour and the old cities of Isla and Birgu. The 17th Century gardens were originally created as a private garden for the Knights of Malta. The busiest time to visit is at midday, when members of the Maltese Heritage Society fire saluting canons below.
While in Valletta a Grand Harbour Cruise is on the must do list. The cruise will take you through the two main natural harbours of Grand Harbour and Marsamxett Harbour and past the sites of neighbouring Sliema and the Upper and Lower Barrakka Gardens as well as approximately ten other creeks. The cruise is a great opportunity to take in some of the most photographic opportunities and the cities 7,000 plus year history.