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Valletta holds all the allure of an ancient fortified city, yet it is not simply a museum piece. The size of Malta and the need for functional space make it as much a public and active fortress as a historic site. Visitors to Malta can find great resorts and historic ruins all over the island, but the best concentration of touristy sites is in Valletta.
The natural beauty and strategic layout of this area are the foremost attraction for visitors. The natural scenery can be seen in the formations of the Sceberras Peninsula on which the city is built. The layout of the city is on a high and rocky outcrop of Malta’s Northeast coast. It is surrounded for the convenience of the visitor by two of Europe’s most scenic harbors: The Grand Harbour and Marsamxett Harbour. A good tip for the best view is to access the Upper Barracca Gardens.
Fortifications of the Knights of St. John
The entire city of Valletta is named for the Grand Master of the Knights of St. John who established themselves here. As such the city itself is a wonder of engineering to explore. The Knights knew that vulnerable on an island they would need an impenetrable fortress, so one can see the massive stone walls, cliffs, trenches, the grid pattern of the city and fresh water and sewage system built to resist sieges.
Malta is renowned for its tradition of faith which continues strongly till today. One can find churches, sanctuaries and devotional reminders on every street corner. The crowning achievement is however the Co-Cathedral of St. John. Both inside and out this pure work of Baroque art is ornate and spectacular. The outside fascade is just the beginning to an interior of Baroque extravagance, with painted vaults, carved stone walls, generous use of marble and priceless works of art including some of Caravaggio’s finest. Tourists visiting February 10th will get to see the processions for the feast of the shipwreck of St. Paul.
This is one of Europe’s oldest theaters still in use. Around 300 years in operation, the Manoel showcases a diverse range of English and Mediterranean shows, music and expositions. The interior is lavish and can be enjoyed at a show or simply on a guided tour.