The Valletta Waterfront is the first site that welcomes cruise ships coming to Malta, but also it is a wonderful place for a walk, where tourists can enjoy shopping, eating at nice restaurants and observing the beauty of the Grand Harbor. The waterfront features 48,000 m2 of picturesque promenade, a modern cruise port and a long row of elegant baroque buildings that host multiple shops, bars and restaurants.
Throughout its history, the coastline of Valletta from the Grand Harbor’s side was a busy place seething with people and vessels day and night. Created by nature, the deep harbor was just perfect for port calls and many ships were operated there, while a lively market prospered in the nearby area. In the middle of the 18th century Grand Master Manuel Pinto de Fonseca ordered to arrange a landscaped waterfront along the coastline by building a few dozens of stores and a church (that’s why the waterfront is often called Pinto Wharf or Stores). The buildings were designed in a rich Baroque style that dominated at the time and the waterfront became a real gem of the Valletta coast, at the same time gaining a great practical importance.
During WWII, the waterfront area was badly damaged by German air bombings, as it was close to the British naval base in Malta. Some buildings were destroyed completely, while others needed significant repairs. In the post-war period, the least damaged buildings were restored to their original design along with the interiors, but only the facades of the most destroyed stores were rebuilt and now they hide conveniently arranged parking lots. Also, during the restoration the original door painting was preserved showing by the color which kind of goods was stored in the building.
By 2005, complete reconstruction of the waterfront was performed, when a new marina and modern Cruise Passenger Terminal were added. In 2010, the Valletta Waterfront architectural ensemble was recognized by the American Society of Landscape Architects as the best landscape project and in 2012 the project earned an award from the international Urban Land Institute.
Today, the Valletta Waterfront is a beautiful architectural ensemble successfully combining new and historic buildings, while ornate design of the Pinto stores catches the eye on the background of powerful and plain fortification walls. Tourist can walk along the lovely promenade admiring the scenic views of the Grand Harbor and the Three Cities, have a snack in one of more than a dozen restaurants and bars or buy traditional souvenirs in the nearby shops. Besides, the waterfront is often used as a venue for various sports and cultural events like Global Run Valletta race or annual Jazz Festival.