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My Escapes Malta Rocky Dry Malta Trip Valletta Valletta's Top Attractions

Valletta's Top Attractions

April 29, 2015

A visit to Valletta can be a dip into a unique World - Maltese language, the architecture and overall everything...
Based on my explorations - I created this article with the best places to see in Valletta. Know your targets well, the small town can be quite time- and effort-consuming.

With just 6,600 inhabitants, Malta's capital is 4th smallest capital in Europe.

Valletta's unique baroque architecture, the Maltese balconies and the dry rocky feel are ingredients of Malta's strange beautiful atmosphere. These are just some of the things I'll illustrate in this little walkaround guide.

View of Valletta from Sliema

Splendid view of Valletta from near Sliema's Fort Tigne

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In order to get to Valletta, I chose to cross the harbour from Sliema by boat, which was more fun and shorter than going by bus.

Getting around within Valletta is another story...

Chariot in Valletta

Chariot in the port area

Also check out the entire Malta Photo Gallery

Yet its population is around 6,600, the town of Valletta feels huge.

I walked around most of its contours - near, on and behind its thick protective walls and then I also explored the interior.

Valletta felt huge...

And, I had to do all the getting around on foot. Buses circulate only on certain routes and they don't come often.
I would have missed out on a lot of urban attractions anyway.

In fact, my exploration of Valletta easily consumed almost an entire day (around 7 hours with transportation included).

I entered two of the churches, visited the Lower Barakka Gardens and several other places.

I will go into further details in this little guide down below...

#1 The Traditional Maltese Balconies

My favourite attractions in the entire country of Malta were the beautiful enclosed balconies.
These are mainly enclosed box-shaped wooden balconies, but there are some made of other materials - like bricks, plastic.

Green Maltese balconies

All green balconies on this block

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The origins of these balconies are disputed, some say they're remains of Spanish governance in the 1282-1530 interval.

It is believed that the first enclosed balcony was used by a grandmaster in 1679 (as part of the Grandmaster's Palace).

Maltese balconies

Near the Misrah San Gorg, right hand's side from the Grandmaster's Palace

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#2 The Carmelite Church

The full name of this Roman Catholic church is Basilica of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and it's the most imposing church in Valletta - its large cupola marking the panorama.

The cupola of the Carmelite Church

Valletta viewed from Sliema: the huge round cupola of the Carmelite Church is dominating the view

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The church was built around the year 1570, after the designs of Girolamo Cassar.

The facade was modified in 1852 and it was largely rebuilt following the severe damages it had suffered during World War II.

Inside the Carmelite Church

How it looks inside

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What you can see today is the result of reconstruction work. It's largely a new church built between 1958-1981.

Its dome has a height of 42 m.

The altar of the Carmelite Church

From closer: the altar

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#3 St. John's Co-cathedral

Roman Catholic cathedral in the heart of Valletta, built between 1573-1578, designed by Maltese military architect, Girolamo Cassar (as a few other buildings I also mention on this page).

St. John's Co-cathedral, Valletta

St. John's Co-cathedral, Valletta

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It is one of its kind with splendid interiors. Breathtaking decorations. One of the most beautiful church interiors that I've ever seen and it's said to be one of Europe's finest examples of Baroque interior.

Inside St. John's Co-cathedral

The shiny interior...

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The strongly ornate interiors glow in golden shine.
The interior work is largely the work of Calabrian artist and knight, Mattia Preti.

St. John's Co-cathedral interior

...from the other side...

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#4 St. Paul's Anglican Church

One of Valletta's main churches it the large St. Paul's Anglican Church, only slightly visible from longer distances - only due to its pointed tower.

Saint Paul's Anglican Church

The pointed tower belongs to Saint Paul's Anglican Church

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The large Anglican church was built in 1844, after Queen Adelaide of the UK had laid its foundation stone on March 20th, 1839.

It was built of Maltese limestone in Neo-classical style with a spire rising 60 m above ground.

Royal Standard of Queen Adelaide

The Royal Standard of Queen Adelaide

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At the entrance, I was able to see a flag with the Royal Standard of Queen Adelaide.
The churches organ is a 17th century old gem, which has been restored in 2013.

Maltese St. Paul's Anglican Church interior

Simple interiors, let's not forget it's Anglican - simplicity is a characteristic of Protestant confessions

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#5 The Grandmaster's Palace

Today, it is home to the Office of the President of Malta and the House of Representatives.
The building was constructed in 1570, designed by Maltese architect Girolamo Cassar.

The interiors are more interesting than the exteriors - the Throne Room and the Palace Armoury being the most important attractions inside.

The Grandmaster's Palace

The Grandmaster's Palace

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#6 The Main Guard Building

The building is in front of the Grandmaster's Palace and was built in 1603.
As its name says, it is the headquarter's of the Grandmaster's personal guards...

This article will tell you more about its history and its functionality with old and new photos with many details...

The Main Guard Building, Valletta

The Main Guard Building

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#7 The National Library of Malta

The building was built in 1776 and cafes, bars, restaurants abound in front and around it.
Worth taking a glimpse...

The National Library of Malta

The National Library of Malta

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#8 The Lower Barakka Gardens

It's called "Lower Barakka Gardens", but it's actually high-situated above Valletta's heavily fortified and tall waterfront area.

There are beautiful flowers and green trees, cafes and bars in and around... but don't expect anything extraordinary.

Lower Barakka Gardens

Up in the Lower Barakka Gardens

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#9 Auberge de Castille

One of the nicest buildings in Valletta was undergoing restoration. Bad luck again.

The building is a stone's throw away from the Barakka Gardens at the Castille Square and it's currently home to the Prime Minister of Malta.

Auberge de Castille in Valletta

Welcoming cannons at the entrance

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The baroque Auberge de Castille was built between 1571-1574, designed by Maltese architect Girolamo Cassar.

Between 1741-1745 it was fully rebuilt when a Portuguese Grandmaster had added his, Portugal's and Castille and León's (region today in northwestern Spain) coats of arms to the facade.

Auberge de Castille facade

Splendid facade... adorable

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#10 Views of the Marsamxett Harbour

This harbour is between Valletta and Sliema.

That's where I came in to Malta from, so it felt nice looking back... The views here are much nicer with more boats than on the other side (the Grand Harbour).

Marsamxett Harbour

Marsamxett Harbour, Sliema on the other side

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#11 Views of the Grand Harbour

The waterfront on the eastern part of Valletta looks towards the towns of Kalkara, Birgu, Senglea through the Grand Harbour.
It's all forts on the other side as on this side (Valletta) as well.

As for the harbour... cargo ships and cruise ships operate here.

Grand Harbour waterfront

The waterfront at the Grand Harbour

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One of the best places to contemplate the harbour is the Lower Barakka Gardens, apart from that, you can simply stroll along the waterfront.

S Boudicca cruise ship

S. Boudicca. My cousin worked on this cruise ship.

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Escape Hunter

About the Author:

Escape Hunter, the young solo traveler in his early 30's explores the World driven by curiosity, thirst for adventure, deep passion for beauty, love for freedom and diversity.
With a nuanced, even humorous approach to travel, an obsession for art and design, Escape Hunter prefers to travel slowly, in order to learn and "soak up" the local atmosphere...


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