In the South Eastern Region of Malta with the Grand Harbour on its Eastern coast, the Malta’s capital and its major gem city, the fascinating Valletta is located. Some European noble families, amazed with Valletta’s terrific buildings, churches, gardens, and bays, gave it the name of Superbissima, meaning the Most Proud. And the City really deserves this name.
Valletta is not a simple capital city of the country. It is a real open-air museum with numerous monuments of its population’s religious, cultural, architectural, engineering, military and maritime development throughout the centuries. Within the city’s history, it welcomed emperors and heads of states, warriors and knights, artists and poets – the list is long. The Maltese government chose this commercial epicentre of the country as its permanent place of seat. Thus, all the most important and vivid events of the country take place in Valletta, which is also called Il-Belt in Maltese, or “the City”.
The City Valletta was founded in 1566, soon after the Siege of Malta in 1565, which actually inspired and gave resources for construction of the new city. The main frame of the Valletta was built in 15 years only. Within this amazingly short period all the major buildings, such as forts, bastions, and cathedrals, were completed. What makes it even more awesome is that there were no mechanical tools for the construction in those times and all the impressive city sights were built by people’s hands.
With the help of the European military engineers the Knights of St.John Oder planned Valletta to become a grid plan city within its strong fortification. The principal city designer, Franchesco Laparelli, was among the first who suggested rejecting the winding streets style in favor of a rectangular plan with the straight and wide streets stretching from the City Gate to the Fort St.Elmo. Today’s Valletta mostly contains buildings from the 16th century and onwards. The major architectural impact was made by the Knights Hospitalier, who laid the first stone and constructed the city in its primary appearance.
The next turn of the building projects came with the British rule. There were several efforts under the British to demolish the majority of Valletta’s fortifications but happily these decisions never came to life despite they were even approved by the authorities and precious fortifications preserved largely intact. Besides, the British rebuilt some of the old buildings, as well as constructed some new wider houses, and established new civil projects. In 1883 Valletta was connected to Mdina by the Malta Railway, which was closed relatively soon, in 1931, as buses became more popular means of transport.
Unfortunately, the Second World War made a lot of amendments in Valletta’s plan of the city as numerous attacks and bombardments destroyed a lot both within the city and in its surroundings. Thus, the Royal Opera House, built in the 19th century, was lost during the war.
The precious heritage of Valletta includes about 320 monuments which reflect all the main activities this city’s population was practicing for centuries. It is difficult to imagine how to cover all the “to-see-list” of the places of interest. The best piece of advice for a tourist would be just to get prepared to being on foot for all the period of guesting in Valletta, as it may become a real hiking marathon.
Being called a European Art City and a masterpiece of the Baroques, Valletta is one of the most interesting historic areas in the world. It was added in the UNESCO World Heritage Cite list in 1980. Presently it was chosen to become the European Capital of Culture for 2018. So now the entire city with its population of 6,444 (as of March 2014) and its area of 0.8 square kilometres is getting prepared to an important period for the capital. Historic sites, such as buildings, forts, and other constructions are being restored, new monuments are being created, and the city entrance is being repaired. This must be one of the most favorable periods to come to Valletta and study it from one coast to another.
Previous pageThe Three Cities: Vittoriosa, Senglea and Cospicua