Posted on: February 27, 2015

Valletta - The Capital City 
 
 
 
Valletta, Malta’s capital city and a World Heritage site, nothing short of an open-air museum. The Fortress City, Citta' Umilissima, "a city built by gentlemen for gentlemen",a living, working city, the administrative and commercial heart of the Islands. Valletta is named after its founder, the respected Grand Master of the Order of St. John, Jean Parisot de la Valette. The magnificent fortress city grew on the arid rock of Mount Sceberras peninsula, which rises steeply from two deep harbours, Marsamxett and Grand Harbour. Started in 1566, Valletta was completed, with its impressive bastions, forts and cathedral, in the astonishingly short time of 15 years.
 
Valletta has many titles, all recalling its rich historical past. It is the "modern" city built by the Knights of St John; a masterpiece of the Baroque; a European Art City and a World Heritage City. Today, it is one of the most concentrated historic areas in the world.
 
The city is busy by day, yet retains a timeless atmosphere. The grid of narrow streets boasts some of Europe's finest art works, churches and palaces. Walking around Valletta you'll come across an intriguing historical sites and interesting places to visit, votive statues, niches, fountains and coats of arms high up on parapets. Narrow side streets are full of tiny quaint shops and cafés, while Valletta's main streets are lined with larger international branded shops for fashion and music.
 
St John’s Co-Cathedral
St John’s Co-Cathedral is a gem of Baroque art and architecture. It was built as the conventual church for the Knights of St John. The Grand Masters and several knights donated gifts of high artistic value and made enormous contributions to enrich it with only the best works of art. This church is till this very day an important shrine and a sacred place of worship. It is also a venue for cultural events.
The interior, in sharp contrast with the facade, is extremely ornate and decorated in the height of the Baroque period. The interior was largely decorated by Mattia Preti, the Calabrian artist and Knight. The Cathedral contains seven rich chapels, each of which was dedicated to the patron saint of the 8 langues (or sections) of the Knights. 
The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist (1608) by Caravaggio (1571–1610), Considered one of Caravaggio's masterpieces and the only painting signed by the painter is displayed in the Cathedral as well as another masterpiece of the same artist “Caravaggio's St Jerome III (1607–1608)”.
Monday – Friday : 09:30 hrs – 16:30 hrs (last admission at 16:00 hrs) 
Saturday – 09:30 hrs – 12:30 hrs (last admission 12:00 hrs) 
Closed on Sunday & Public Holidays
Entrance Fees: 
Adults- €6.00- Seniors: €4.60 – Children under 12 years: Free (when accompanied by an adult) – Students €3.50
 
 
State Rooms 
 
The State Rooms are the show piece of the Presidential Palace sited at the heart of Malta’s World Heritage capital city of Valletta. The Palace itself was one of the first buildings in the new city of Valletta founded by Grand Master Jean de Valette in 1566 a few months after the successful outcome of the Great Siege of Malta in 1565. The Palace was enlarged and developed by successive Grand Masters to serve as their official residence. Later, during the British period, it served as the Governor’s Palace and was the seat of Malta’s first constitutional parliament in 1921. The palace today is the seat of the Office of the President of the Republic and the House of Parliament.

Reasons to Visit
  1. The only complete and intact set of the famous 18th century French Gobelins tapestries entitled, “Les Teintures des Indes”, in the world.
  2. The most comprehensive visual narration of the Great Siege of 1565 painted by Matteo Perez d’Aleccio.
  3. The portrait gallery of the various rulers of the Maltese Islands spanning from the coming of the Knights of St John in Malta till today.
  4. The late 18th century Baroque illusionistic ceiling paintings that reflect the pageantry and grandeur that the Grand Masters pandered to as they imitated the great aristocratic courts of Europe.
  5. A lavish space that is well over 400 years old and that has weathered the political demands and tastes of the Knights of the Order of St John, the British Governors and the Presidents of the Republic of Malta.
Open: Monday to Friday (closed every Thursday) between 10.00 and 16.30hrs (last admission at 1600hrs). Saturday and Sunday between 09.00 and 16.30hrs (last admission at 1600hrs). 
Closed on every Thursday, 24, 25 & 31 December, 1 January & Good Friday. 

National Museum of Archaeology
 
The National Museum of Archaeology is housed in the Auberge de Provence, in Republic Street, Valletta. The building, an example of fine Baroque architecture, was built in 1571 and followed a plan by local architect Ġilormu Cassar. The Auberge de Provence was house to the Knights of the Order of St John originating from Provence, France and displays beautiful architectural features. Of particular note is the Grand Salon, with its richly painted walls and wooden beamed ceiling.
The Museum exhibits a spectacular range of artefacts dating back to Malta’s Neolithic period (5000 BC) up to the Phoenician Period (400 BC). On display are the earliest tools used by the prehistoric people to facilitate their daily tasks and representations of animal and human figures; elements which not only show the great artistic skills of the first dwellers of the island but also gives us an insight of their daily lives.
Open - Monday to Sunday: 08.00 - 19.00hrs - Last admission: 18.15hrs
Closed on 24, 25 & 31 December, 1 January & Good Friday
 
Reasons to visit
  1. Unique display of renowned valuable artefacts such as the Sleeping Lady, the Venus of Malta and the Horus and Anubis pendant.
  2. Serves as a good introduction to prehistory and early history in Malta.
  3. Puts Malta’s archaeological sites in context.
  4. Housed in one of the most elaborately decorated Baroque buildings in Valletta.
  5. Currently hosting the exhibition ‘Malta – the Great Story of a Small Island-Nation through 100 Objects’
 
Open - Monday to Friday (closed every Thursday) between 10.00 and 16.30hrs (last admission at 1600hrs). Saturday and Sunday between 09.00 and 16.30hrs (last admission at 1600hrs). 
Closed on every Thursday, 24, 25 & 31 December, 1 January & Good Friday. 

The Palace Armoury
 
 The Palace Armoury is one of the world’s largest collections of arms and armour that is still housed in its original building. The Knights of St John were a unique brotherhood of resolute warrior monks. From Malta, their island stronghold, these combatant aristocrats from the noblest houses of Europe, carried out their relentless crusade against the Ottoman Turks in defence of the Catholic faith. The Palace Armoury is certainly one of the most visible and tangible symbols of the past glories of the Sovereign Hospitaller Military Order of Malta.
Open: Monday to Sunday: 09.00 - 17.00hrs - Last admission: 16.30hrs
Closed on 24, 25 & 31 December, 1 January & Good Friday. 
 
Reasons to Visit
  1. Unique display of suits of armour owned by Grand Masters Alof de Wignacourt and Jean de La Valette.
  2. Arms and armour used by the Knights of St. John between 1530 -1798 and by the Ottoman Empire during the Great Siege of 1565.
  3. A varied selection of firearms used for both military and sporting purposes.
  4. A chance to see a selection of artillery pieces originally used for battle on the fortifications.

National Museum of Fine Arts
 
 Set in a complementing historic building, the museum presents a multifaceted overview of art and artistic expression in Malta from the Late Medieval period to the contemporary. The palace was officially inaugurated as the National Museum of Fine Arts in 1974 and has since then been Malta’s most important museum for the arts. Highlights from the collection on display include paintings by leading local and internationally acclaimed artists, precious Maltese silverware, statuary in marble bronze and wood, fine furniture items and splendid maiolica pieces. The collection also includes works by Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851) and Albert Bierstadt (1830-1902), Valentin de Boulogne (1591-1632), Jusepe Ribera (1591-1652) and Guido Reni (1575-1642). The large piano nobile halls house works of art from the Early Renaissance to the High Baroque with a focus on the corpus of works by the Italian Baroque painter Mattia Preti. This is the biggest corpus of works by Mattia Preti on display in any public museum.
 
Open - Monday to Sunday: 09.00 - 17.00hrs - Last admission: 16.30hrs
Closed on 24, 25 & 31 December, 1 January & Good Friday

Reasons to Visit
  1. The largest collection of works by the renowned Southern Italian artist Mattia Preti (1613-1699) on display in any public museum.
  2. The best selection of Baroque art masterpieces on the island.
  3. On display, the only watercolour by Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851) featuring Malta’s Grand Harbour and unique Malta views and landscapes.
  4. One of the most important eighteenth-century High Baroque staircases on the island.
 
Tickets:
 
Adults (18 - 59 years): €5.00
Youths, Students & Seniors: €3.50
Youths (12 - 17 years), Senior Citizens (60 years & over), and Students: €2.50
Infants (1 -5 years): Free
∞Admission discounts are available for senior citizens (60+yrs), youths (12-17yrs), and students (holding a valid student card).
∞ Holders of the Heritage Malta Membership Card, ICOM members, and children aged 5 years and younger enter all sites (except for the Hypogeum) 
Heritage Malta Multisite Passes are also available from Heritage Malta offices. 
 
The Knights Hospitallers in Valletta 
 
The Knights Hospitallers in Malta is located within the historical Medirerranean Conference Centre (MCC) and takes you back in time with a multilingual walk through. Re-live history and learn about the Knights in Malta and their role as a Hospitaller Order of Chivalry in the medieval period in Malta. Life size figures portray the hard life of the people at that time tell you the history from the Crusades to the Great Siege of 1565.
The Knights Hospitallers is set in what used to be the Holy Infirmary and the historical hospital from where the Knights operated. The Knights Hospitallers were known for providing the best medical service available at that time and this brought a lot of injured and sick people to Malta in hope to be healed. Here you can discover the chivalrous world of the renowned Hospitaller Knights and learn about the development of surgery and the origins of modern day healthcare.
 
Upper Barrakka Gardens
 
The Upper Barrakka Gardens (Il-Barrakka ta' Fuq) are a public garden in Valletta, Malta. It is twinned with the Lower Barrakka Gardens in the same city, and offers a panoramic view of the Grand Harbour.
 
One of Valletta's most beautiful parks, it was created in 1775 on the bastion of St. Peter and Paul. In the park there are several statues, including one from Sir Winston Churchill, and a sculpture by the Maltese sculptor Antonio Sciortino, entitled Les Gavroches (The street boys). The garden was the gift of an eighteenth-century Italian knight. It was originally intended to offer recreation to the knights of the Italian langue, or department, of the Order of Saint John.
It is the highest point of the city walls, and thus its bordering terrace offers a clear view over the Grand Harbour and the old towns of Senglea and Vittoriosa, as well as over the shipyard and the lower-lying parts the capital. 
 
The Saluting Battery is one of Malta's most vibrant visitor attractions where history is brought to life daily! From here, gun salutes were fired on occasions of state, to mark anniversaries and religious feasts and also to greet visiting dignitaries and vessels. From the 1820's a gun was also fired at mid-day to signal out the exact hour of the day by which Ship Masters would calibrate their chronographs on board. These time pieces were used up to the early part of the 20th century to find the longitude at sea. Following a lull of almost half-a century, this battery is back in use following an extensive restoration process by Fondazzjoni Wirt Artna - the Malta Heritage Trust in conjunction with the Malta Tourism Authority. Once again, its guns resonate daily in the same way of old to herald the passage of mid-day and to add to the festive mood that marks important anniversaries in the history of the island.
 
Another Feature not to miss is The Barrakka Gardens lift Inaugurated on the 15th December 2012 is an efficient and fast connection between Lascaris Wharf, which is situated on the waterfront Grand Harbour side of Valletta, and the heart of the city of Valletta through the Upper Barrakka Gardens situated next to Castile Place.
 
 
 
 
The Valletta Waterfront 
 
 
The Valletta Waterfront is also the gateway to Malta’s capital city, with its nineteen historical 250-year-old warehouses, built by Grand Master Pinto at the height of the baroque period in Malta … stretching along the water’s edge and the historical Quay Wall where the Knights of St John and European merchants used to unload their wares … the impregnable Old Power Station that serves as a testimony to the eclectic and heroic history of the Grand Harbour … the Forni Stores, dating back to 1626 and constructed by Grand Master de Vilhena – the Valletta Waterfront invites you to discover its complete mix of retail, dining and leisure experiences.
 
Shopping Experience in Valletta 
 
Shopping in Valletta, indeed in Malta in general, is a modest affair, though in the last year or two, more and more interesting arty-crafty and boutique shops are opening in renovated premises around the city.
 
Valletta's shopping forte is its many independent family-owned shops. Some of these specialize in gold and silver filigree jewellery, making pieces on the premises. The Silversmith's Shop, 218 Republic Street, is a good example where you can watch the proprietor at work. Leather items, particularly Italian-styled shoes are also good value, and are on sale throughout Valletta. At the Waterfront are island craft shops (pottery and glass) and the Forni Shopping Complex, home to a host of designer names.
 
Markets: 
 
The island's biggest shopping event is the weekly Sunday morning market at St James Ditch, held immediately outside the Valletta city walls. Coachloads of visitors (and many islanders too) come from all over, to pore over a ragbag of everyday clothing, replica football kits and pirated brand-name clothing, an antique flea market, old books, bits of car engines, sweets, live birds and whatever else is deemed to be saleable to someone somewhere. It's 
 
Opening hours:
 
Most shops in Valletta open at 0900, close for a siesta at 1300, and reopen from 1600 to 1900. Not all shops re-open Saturday afternoon, and Sunday is a day of rest