In recent years, Valletta has become a must-see destination in Europe, not least because of its cultural richness. This beautiful Mediterranean city, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is however not only an open-air museum. It is constantly reinventing itself and the capital of Malta is now a trendy city where restaurants are open and sunny walks all year round are very pleasant. Follow the guide!
A thousand-year-old culture listed by UNESCO
Valletta is rich in 320 monuments, concentrated in an area of 55 hectares, making it one of the most historically rich places on the planet. The Maltese capital has a multitude of architectural and artistic treasures that earned it a place on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1980. The recently restored co-cathedral of St. John, built between 1575 and 1577, is one of the masterpieces of this incredible heritage. In addition to its sumptuous interior with its sculpted gilding, it has the particularity of housing in its oratory, the painting The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist, a magnificent and famous work by Caravaggio
Another superb and emblematic building in Malta is the Auberge de Provence, where some of the French Knights of the Order of Malta used to live. Today it houses the National Museum of Archaeology. It conceals an impressive collection of prehistoric objects including the famous statuette of The Sleeping Woman. This sculpture representing the goddess of fertility, comes from the hypogeum of Hal Salfieni, a major Maltese prehistoric site also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site
But Valletta owes this incredibly rich heritage above all to the Knights of the Order of Malta. Driven out of Rhodes, the Knights of the Order of St. John chose to settle in Malta in 1530 and it was they who built Valletta in 1566 under the leadership of the French knight, Jean de La Valette, who gave the city its name. This honey-coloured city was conceived, from the outset, as an impregnable fortress, hence its ramparts and walls, which are still visible today. But the construction of Valletta was also very avant-garde for the time, as it was one of the first cities in the world to be designed according to plan. The grid of the streets of Valletta dates from its foundation and has not changed since then
A good glass of wine or a cocktail?
The Maltese capital is not only a beautiful museum city, it has undergone a real transformation in recent years. For a long time, Valletta was very lively during the day, but it was extinguished at night. At nightfall, the streets were deserted by tourists who preferred to go and have fun in the festive Paceville district of Saint Julian's. But times have changed, thanks to the tourist boom of recent years, but also to the new cultural infrastructure put in place when Valletta was named European Capital of Culture in 2018. Cinemas, theatres and cultural venues, such as the St James or the Mediterranean Conference Center, are now part of the capital's landscape. And, without warning, the nightlife has regained its former glory. Bars are more numerous and remain open in the evenings, even during the week and even during Covid-19. Here, the clientele is eager to chill out over a good glass of wine or a cocktail
Normally, the Maltese capital is also a great place for festivities all year round. Every year, it hosts the Jazz Festival in July, the superb International Fireworks Festival in the Grand Port at the beginning of May and the very lively Carnival in February
Charming hotels, beautiful terraces and tasty gastronomy
Valletta is one of the European capitals to concentrate the largest number of charming quality accommodation at more than affordable prices. The city has a large number of boutique hotels, most of which are housed in magnificent baroque palazzi whose structure has been preserved. This is the case of the Valletta Suites or the Palazzo San Pawl to name but a few. These establishments are housed in beautifully restored buildings with all modern comforts for an average rate of €90 per person
Valletta is also home to a large number of good restaurants where you can discover the famous Maltese gastronomy. One can easily taste a typical Maltese dish such as rabbit stew, but also discover a more creative local cuisine with Mediterranean roots. The refined setting of most of these gourmet restaurants offers an often intimate atmosphere. Maltese cuisine is typically Mediterranean with some English influences. Sauce dishes are recurrent with lots of vegetables or stuffed seafood such as qarnit mimli (stuffed octopus). Typical Maltese side dishes often contain garlic, the famous English garlic, and tomatoes. Fish have a special place.Lampuki, a fish from the Maltese coast, close to sea bream, is often accompanied by a tomato sauce with capers or prepared in the form of a pie. But the Maltese star dish is the rabbit stew with herbs and garlic, the fenkata. Finally, due to the Italian influence, the Maltese love pasta and especially timpana, a macaroni pie with minced meat, grated cheese and eggs. In terms of sweets, imqaret is the great speciality of the country; it is a doughnut pastry filled with dates that delights young and old alike.
When? All year! The climate is Mediterranean, i.e. mild in winter, hot and dry in summer.
Get there. Count about 2 hours and 45 minutes of flight time. Question Covid, a negative PCR test of less than 72 hours will be required upon descent
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