We went to Malta on a short but very needed holiday. We spent 2 nights in Valletta – the old city and capital, and then moved on to Bugibba for the reminder of our stay.
We wanted to make our stay special as it was A. birthday. What does it mean in this case? Stay in a fancy Palazzo Consiglia among the medieval walls of Valletta. And it was wonderful. We wandered the narrow streets of Malta’s capital, swam in roof top swimming pool and even got a complimentary bottle of Prosecco (Italian white wine, can be spumante (“sparkling wine”), frizzante (“semi-sparkling wine”), or tranquillo (“still wine”) – our was… cold and free! Delicious!).
We arrived really late. Just before midnight. (Just to let you know taxis can only get to a certain point in old city, if your hotel is beyond it, you need to walk) Actually the clock struck midnight when we were checking in. I screamed “Happy Birthday!” to A. and hugged him. I have to say first time in my life I did this show on purpose hoping we might get a nice surprise. And it worked! Palazzo Consiglia is beautiful! The bathrooms have rain showers and you can enjoy your day on the roof among spectacular views. We stayed in Industriale – a guestroom that embodies the industrial period of the roaring twenties. I know this is a lot writing about a hotel, but after all our budget accommodations on previous trips this certainly was a change. I suppose when you decide to splash out you might at least enjoy it and be excited about it.
Valletta, The Fortress City, Citta’ Umilissima, “a city built by gentlemen for gentlemen” (Benjamin Disraeli, British Prime Minister) is Malta’s capital. Valletta is named after its founder Grand Master of the Order of St. John, Jean Parisot de la Valette. The medivial fortress city grew on the arid rock of Mount Sceberras peninsula, which rises steeply from two deep harbours, Marsamxett and Grand Harbour. Unesco has included Valletta in its World Heritage list, outstanding sites belonging to all the peoples of the world, irrespective of the territory on which they are located.
Valletta has been selected by the European Union to be European Capital of Culture for 2018. The city is packed with 320 monuments (25 churches) in an area less than one square kilometre – the smallest capital city in the EU. Valletta owes its existence to the Knights of St John, who planned the city as a refuge to care for injured soldiers and pilgrims during the Crusades in the 16th century.
I have mixed feelings about Valletta. It’s impressive. Thick, high walls, narrow streets and passages, Italian style squares and piazzas. But everything seems to only resembling its former glory. Like poor relative compared to what I’ve seen in continental Europe. Simply poor state of repair.
Lower Barrakka Gardens (Il-Barrakka t’Isfel) & Siege Bell War Memorial were the first places we visited the following morning. Located on the Eastern side of the city, the Lower Barrakka Gardens feature a Neoclassical monument to Sir Alexander Ball, the first, and most loved of British Governors.
The Siege Bell is a memorial to those who lost their lives in Malta’s Siege in the Second World War. It was designed by Michael Sandle and erected in 1992.
And we are on to the Lascaris War Rooms just down the street located within Upper Barrakka Gardens with spectacular views over sea and cannons!
The Lascaris War Rooms consist of an underground complex of tunnels and chambers that housed the War Headquarters from where the defense of Malta was conducted during the Second World War.
More on Malta to come… stay tuned…
BTW when you arrive at midnight to Valletta and want to eat something, all you have to choose is a cheese platter or some other snacks. Be prepared for it to be over priced.