Grand Harbour, Valletta
From the terrace of the Upper Barakka Gardens you get spectacular views across the Grand Harbour to The Three Cities, and along the quayside to the harbour mouth and Fort Ricasoli, somewhere we need to visit another time. In this picture is Senglea, one of the three cities and with the famous Eye & Ear Vedette at the very tip of the headland. Senglea and it's neighbour Vittoriosa are two very nice places that you can combine in one day trip. Take a look at my pages on those cities for a bit more information.
Down by the quayside just past Victoria Gate are some shabby buildings, some used as workshops, some as storage and some as cafes (some of which looked quite nice). I like this kind of decaying building, I think they have some character. Dunno if it's the place to be at night though ;-)
TIme to stop for more refreshments. The Gun Post Cafe was just the sort of place we love: set by the Marsamxett Harbour with views over to Sliema and run by a Maltese family that seemed to range from grandparents to grandchildren. More about this place in the Restaurants section.
The Saluting Battery occupies one of the most strategic locations in Valletta from where the whole of the Grand Harbour can be seen. It stands on the lower part of the St. eter & St. Paul's Bastion, at the foot of the wind swept Upper Barracca Gardens. (see previous tip on the gardens), and o verlooking Fort St. Angelo. This battery was originally built by the Order of St. John on the 16th Century as part of the main defences of Valletta. It remained in continuous use right through the French and British periods up to just 40 years ago.
It's excellent position at the heart of the Grand Harbour was meant to provide crucial inner-harbour defence in case of attack. Throughout its long service life spanning some three centuries, this battery had seen 21 different types of cannon mounted in it representing all major periods in the evolution of artillery.
Entrance Fee Euro5.00
Guided tours available 11-00am & 12.15pm. The 11.00 am tour allows you to stay in the Battery through-out the Noon-day gun firing, and will offer a unique opportunity for close up viewing of the drill and picture taking.
It also fired ceremonial gun salutes for visiting dignataries and vessels and on national occasions and festivities. You can watch the gun being fired from the balcony then descent to the battery and try loading one of the old cannons yourself.
In one of the photo's you can see the gun that will be fired slightly tilted up, and the two volunteer soldiers are waiting instruction from the other volunteer who has been talking us through the whole procedure.
Well, what can I say? They don’t call it the Grand Harbour for nothing. At any given day several massive cruise ships lie anchored on this huge natural harbour on top of all the other ships and boats that regularly come in and out of Malta. It’s quite an impressive sight and can best be viewed from the Barracca gardens that are just at the right of you after entering Valletta through the city gate at the bus terminus.
Grand Harbour in Maltese: Il-Port il-Kbir is the natural harbour of Valletta and Mata. It has been used as a harbour since at least Phoenician times. The natural harbour has been greatly improved with extensive docks and wharves, and has been massively fortified. The harbour mouth faces north east and is bounded to the north by St Elmo's Point and further sheltered by an isolated breakwater and is bounded to the south by Ricasoli Point. Its north west shore is formed by the Scebarras peninsula, which is largely covered by the city of Valletta and its suburb Floriana.
The Valletta Waterfront pier is so lovely, I am sure you will like it!
There are nineteen beautifully restored 16th century warehouses and bastions, built during the Baroque period, stretching along the water's edge. These buildings were originally built as stores by the Knights of St. John, and now have been restored and revived. They look lovely with their brightly coloured painted doors. A clue, a blue door is for fish, green for produce, yellow for wheat and red for wine. There were lots of restaurants, clubs, retail outlets and some offices.
Lots of the restaurant's have alfresco dining, so nice when being beside the water on a warm evening.
The Valletta Waterfront is located within walking distance from the city of Valletta.
As our Cruise Ship neared the city of Valletta, we cruised by Point Ricasoli and the massive Fort Ricasoli, once only a small Fort of 7 Bastions.
The Fort was extensively mined, armed, and fitted with artillery, and even with all this defence, it still was considered a weak Fort. The heavy seas hitting hard against the walls didn't help either.
In 1827, the Fort was turned into a hospital and catered for the sick and wounded, then later, it was turned it into an isolation station for those who had cholera.
The British strengthened Fort Ricasoli by constructing several casements for heavy guns, gun turrets, emplacements, and barracks. By 1870 it contained over 100 guns facing the sea and a 700 strong garrison.
Now, the Fort is the home of the "Malta Film commission."
Have you seen the films "The Gladiator," Julius Caesar" or "Troy," you may recognize the Fort!
The Fort sometimes has open days so you can visit the film sets showing ancient Rome constructed within this fort, a popular site for epic filming.
A monument to remind us everyday of the 70,000 who lost their lives during the Second World War. A 'dead man' statue is positioned at the edge of the bastion with a plaque saying " At the going down of the Sun, and in the Morning, We Will Remember Them" Inaugurated in 1992 by Queen Elizabeth II, the Siege Bell Memorial is a monument to the dead of World War II. The bell is rung at mid-day, each day. Click on pic to see photos of the 'dead man' monument, and the Bell
A Karozzin is another name for a Carriage used for a Horse & Carriage ride. We came across these as we walked along the Grand Harbour on Xatt Lascaris street. There were a lot here waiting for people to hire.
We weren't interested, infact, I felt rather sorry for the Horses. The Horses were set off along the road at a very fast pace, I would want them to slow down if I were to be sightseeing.
Ask coachman for rates of the various tours he suggests before setting off. I believe the approx price is around 50 euros.
The notice stated they were only here when Cruise Ships are in Port.
Hours between 7am - 7pm
The 10 tonne bronze Great Siege Bell memorial was inaugurated by Queen Elizabeth and the President of Malta, in May 1992, the 50th anniversary of King George VI awarding the "George Cross of Bravery" to the island of Malta in 1942.
It commemorates the victory of the Allied forces during the Second Siege of Malta from 1940-1943. Italian and German forces battled with Allied forces to gain control of Malta - an important strategic location. 7000 lost their lives then during this seige.
Looking at it from a distance, I thought it was another old monument, it blended in so well, but as you read, and once you are closer, you can see that it's fairly newish.
At the moment, the Fort is being restored. It is NOT OPEN TO THE PUBLIC but will eventually open as a Museum.
When the island was under Aragonese Rule, this building was known as the Castle by the Sea.
It is thought to date back to the 11th century, when the island was under Arab occupation, then from the 14th century, under Aragonese rule. The fort was the home of the powerful Nava family, feudal lords of the island.
At the beginning, the Fort only had 3 small guns and several mortars, then the Knights came along and added a cavalier tower. At one time the fort was used as a jail to imprison rebellious knights.
There are two chapels inside the fortress - one dedicated to the Virgin (12th century) and one to St. Anne (1534).
The Grand Masters who died before Valletta was built were buried in St. Annes Chapel, and their remains were later transferred to St. John's Cathedral.
Then the British came and turned St. Angelo into Naval Headquarters, naming the Fort, H.M.S. St. Angelo. Several famous admirals, including Lord Mountbatten, were stationed there.
So for the time being, all you can do is enjoy the view of the Fort from the outside.
In 1531 Grand Master l’Isle Adam set up two stone gallows on Gallow's Point in order to hang two Turks and 10 slaves who planned a revolt while the Grandmaster and the knights were expected to be in Mdina. Between 1536 and 1560, more met their death here. In later years, these gallows were also used to hang galley slaves who tried to escape. The corpses were left hanging in plain view of all incoming and outgoing Ships to deter visitors to the island from committing unlawful acts.
It later was turned into a Fort, and re-named Fort Riscoli.
Whilst waiting for the noon day firing of the cannon at the Saluting Battery in the upper Barraka Gardens Valetta, I took the photo of the Seaplane that had just taken off from the Grand Harbour for a scenic tour round Malta.
Although I have not experienced this flight at all, I thought I would post the information for those of you who would like to take advantage of this trip whilst in Malta.
There is also a service between Malta and Gozo, plus there is a terminal if you are staying in Gozo that does the same trip, the address for this is the Mgarr Marina, Pontoon F., Mgarr Harbour , Gozo
Please click onto the website for the seaplane and watch the short video which shows take off, views over Malta and Gozo, and the landing, just to give you a birds eye view of what you can expect.
Positioned in the centre of the Mediterranean Sea, Valetta is at the crossroads of many major maritime routes and occupies a strategic position. Valletta's architecture is inspired by the Italian Renaissance and the city has many magnificent monuments, the most famous of which is the Co-Cathedral of Saint John. There is a rich repository of ancient archeological artifacts dating back to 3000 BC in the Museum of Archeology.
This picture was taken from the sun deck of the Legends of the Sea when it stopped over at Valletta. Such an impressive view of the Grand Harbour!