1. Valletta´s old town
A beautiful city with about 6.000 residents, the Maltese Capital is full of walkways and alleys separating buildings in the local architectural style, featuring colourful wooden balconies that create a certain atmosphere balanced between the tradition of the medieval knights, who left their mark here and the laidback nature at the core of the Mediterranean temperament. In 2018 Valletta will be European Capital of Culture.
Valletta is named after its heroic founder, Jean Parisot De La Valette. It also boasts high bastions, forts, and a cathedral. The narrow side streets are full of tiny quaint shops and cafes. The city’s unique setting nowadays plays host to a series of cultural events, from theatre in English, to concerts by lead opera singers.
2. The Grandmaster’s Palace
The Grandmaster’s Palace was one of Valletta’s first buildings and served as the official residence for the ruling Grand Master. It hosts a lavish display of Baroque art, a comprehensive visual narration of the 1565 Great Siege, and the only complete and intact set of the famous 18th century French Gobelins tapestries in the world, entitled “Les Teintures des Indes.”
3. The Upper Barrakka Gardens
Built on top of a demi-bastion, the Upper Barrakka Gardens offer a jaw-dropping view of the Grand Harbour. A number of statues and monuments adorn the garden.
4. St John’s Co-Cathedral
For sure, this church is my favorite of many I have seen. It is a true highlight during your visit to Malta. At least allow yourself 2 to 3 hours time to discover this marvel. St John’s Co-Cathedral is considered to be one of the finest examples of high Baroque architecture in Europe and one of the world’s great cathedrals. It epitomizes the spiritual and military role of its original patrons. Among the treasures found inside are the unique Caravaggio painting depicting the beheading of St John, and a splendid vaulted central nave with frescoes.
5. The New Parliament
It is a very controversial building, constructed between 2011 and 2015 to designs by famous Italian architect Renzo Piano as part of the City Gate Project, which also included building a new City Gate and converting the ruins of the Royal Opera House into an open-air theatre. Construction of the New Parliament House generated considerable controversy, mainly due to the modern design of the building and the cost of construction, which amounted to around 90 million Euro.
6. Valletta Waterfront and Grand Harbour
A must be is to cross the Grand Harbour onboard a traditional Maltese Dghajsa.
A Dghajsa (pronounced dysa in Maltese) is a traditional water taxi from Malta. The design of the Dghajsa possibly dates back to Phoenician times, although it was modified over time, especially during British rule in Malta.
Dghajsa were mainly used in the area of the Grand Harbour, to carry passengers and small baggage from ships to shore. It was usually propelled by one man standing, facing forward, and pushing on two oars. The high stem and stern pieces seem to be mainly ornamental but they are useful in handling the boat and in the boarding and disembarking of passengers. The decorative symbols vary from boat to boat.
7. Caffe Cordina
Tired? Do you like to enjoy a break in a beautiful setting? Then go to Caffe Cordina in the middle of Valletta´s old town. Located in an old palazzo it became a Maltese icon long time ago. Caffe Cordina is a true legacy with a long and prestigious history. Founded in 1837, the Cordina family started off from a small outlet in Bormla in baking and preparation of traditional Maltese sweet delicacies, defining the Cordina family’s true vocation. A vocation nourished by courageous decisions, such as the relocation of the coffee shop to Valletta in 1944 by the late Mr. Cesare Cordina, forefather of the present family. Over the years he enlarged the establishment resulting in the Caffe you see today comprising of tea rooms, pasticceria, coffee bar and gelateria.
8. St. Julian´s
Do you want to have an evening out at fancy bars or restaurants? Than head to St. Julian’s, easily accessible by bus from Valletta´s bus terminal. St. Julian´s has developed into a cosmopolitan resort. And if you are into a learning English mood this is the place to go. Here are many language schools for beginners and advanced students.
Are you into the mood of eating in an elegant 16th century palazzo? The restaurant Palazzo Preca offers Maltese cuisine, fresh fish and pasta. Here you can easily step back a few hundred years. And if you are in a very romantic mood, then drop in on any given Wednesday for the Candle Light Dinner, where all electric lighting is switched off giving way to the haunting ambience of an mysterious old palace.
I stayed in the unique Palazzo San Pawl which is a 17th century building originally built by the Knights of Malta. It has been very carefully restored to its original splendour and old world charm, in keeping with and enhancing all its original features.
11. A Men`s Place
I discovered in the old town of Valletta a stylish Boutique. With a beautiful interior and the latest men’s clothing. Name: Kir Royal. The founder is Ludwig Saliba, who also does Image Consultancy.
12. High Tea at Palazzo Parisio
Traditional English Tea needs to be experienced at Palazzo Parisio in Naxxar near Valletta. So I did. I had a fabulous High Tea in the afternoon and silverware, pretty table cloths and fine china as table decoration. English Afternoon Tea was served to me in the ambiance of the magnificent privately owned walled gardens of the Palace. The enclosed building dates back to 1733.
Well, in my case it was Royal Tea because I have been offered in addition a glass of champagne.
13. Travelling to Malta
Established in 1974, Air Malta is the main international carrier for the island. It has a small fleet of 12 aircrafts that travel to 50 destinations abroad. And because of its direct flights it is the most comfortable way of travelling to Malta.
Photos: Enric Boixadós
sl4lifestyle was welcomed as a guest by Malta Tourism Authority, however all opinions remain my own.