Fun things to do in Valletta

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Most Viewed Things to Do in Valletta

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    A national remembrance.

    by planxty Written Mar 1, 2013

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    The history of the island of Malta, ancient as it undoubtedly is, is really one of military struggle of one sort or another. I was told by a Maltese resident a few hours ago that the island has been invaded no less than 51 times by various peoples including the Romans, Carthaginians, Ottoman Turks and the French. The one group that singularly failed to conquer the island, however, were the Axis forces of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy in the Secnd World War. This period of stoicism and sarifice has done much to shape the country's modern world image and the ties between Malta and the UK remain very strong.

    Obviously, a military onslaught of such as was experienced by the islanders during that period was not without cost and the poor souls who lost their lives are commemorated in the national War Memorial which is just outside the walls of the ancient city of Valletta and close to the modern bus station.

    Like so many of it's kind round the world, standing in front of this monument, with it's six Maltese flags, including on them the George Cross bestowed upon the entire island for it's fortitude, fills me with awe. As a man born well after the Second World War, I can only wonder at the resilience of the people, many of whom lived for years effectively like troglodytes in catacombs and caves alongside the long-dead to avoid the horrors of death from the sky.

    If you visit Valletta and wander about by yourself (instead of on a tour that concentrates on the area within the walls) you cannot miss it and I suggest you take your life in your hands, which is what it requires to cross the road to get to it, and have a look at this fine monument.

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    They don't make it easy but it's worth it.

    by planxty Updated Feb 28, 2013

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    So what exactly constitutes Valletta, capital of Malta? Well, it appears that it is merely the walled section of a city that has long outgrown the confines of those defences. Much of what you may well think of as Valletta when you visit, for example if you alight at the bus station near the Triton fountain, is technically in Floriana. The vagaries of the VT database do not recognise Floriana so I am putting this in my Valletta page.

    Firstly, if you are wondering about the name Floriana, it derives from the architect of the defences of Valletta and the laying out of this area as well. He was an Italian chap called Floriani and was at the time the Pope's personal architect. The area was named for him as the main town had been already named Valletta in honour of one of the Grand Masters of the Knights of St. John who ruled the place at the time.

    Whilst taking a fairly aimless wander shortly after arriving on the island, I happened upon one of the very informative signs as depicted. There is a walking trail, not arduous, of about 35 locations which include most of the things of interest outside the city walls to the Southwest. Now, I have visited various Tourist Information Centres on the island and never found any literature regarding this trail. A fairly exhaustive interenet search has similarly failed to turn up anything official about it but do not let this put you off. Each sign tells you the next point of interest as well as the preceeding one so no matter where you start stumble across the trail you can go in either direction. The whole thing is not long so it is not a chore to do that. If you arrive at the main bus station, it might be an idea to go to the National Independence Monument, which is number 35 and work your way back to number one.

    If you complete the trail you will have seen just about everyhting of interest in Floriana including the Granaries, St. Publius Church, the water tower, the Mall and many other points of interest. Rather than have the visitor wander about aimlessly I would suggest this as a way to see the area outside the walls without missing anything.

    I shall deal with all the various places of interest on the trail in seperate tips so I will only post one generic photo here and the website attached is about the only one I can find of any interest. Whilst researching this tip, I was interested to discover that the money for it was predominantly EU, in some sort of cultural programme for the Med encompassing the Lebanon and Morocco and was tempted to wonder where exactly Europe stops, but perhaps that is a discussion for another forum. In a country where tourist "attractions" are not particularly cheap, this was a pleasant surprise.

    If you are on a budget or just want a pleasant and well-signed tour then find a sign and start walking, you'll enjoy it. I certainly did.

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  • Atmospheric church with incredible metalwork

    by afeeney Written Feb 19, 2013

    This lovely, relatively small church shares many features with St. John's Co-Cathedral, just steps away, but has far more atmosphere. The lighting is frustratingly dim in many parts of the church, making it virtually impossible to see some of the works of art, but this also contributes to the more spiritual atmosphere, compared to the Co-Cathedral's sophisticated lighting system. The church received much of its funding from local guilds rather than the Knights, and so the grandeur is less ostentatious.

    It also features tombstones in the floor and some of these are spectacular, though they do show more wear than the Co-Cathedral's.

    The various pieces of metalwork are spectacular, perhaps because one of the donors was the local goldsmiths' guild.

    Admission is free but they request a donation. No photographs, but they sell postcards and small booklets.

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    Waterfront

    by antistar Written Jan 19, 2013

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    Valletta's waterfront, about 60 meters below street level, is a baroque wharf that has recently been renovated to accommodate a host of expensive bars and restaurants, like the Hard Rock Bar. The waterfront is where visiting cruise ships unload, but you can also find water taxis, tours and other tourist related services down here.

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    National War Museum

    by antistar Updated Jan 13, 2013

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    The first question I asked myself in Valletta's poignant war museum, is why on earth would the Maltese allow themselves to become a target by hosting the British navy during World War 2? The question was soon answered: Because it gave them protection from Mussolini just 50 miles north, an aggressive dictator who wanted Malta to fall under his dominion.

    But it was a double edged sword for the Maltese. While they protected their freedom, they drew upon themselves the full fury of the Axis powers. Between them the Luftwaffe and Regia Aeronautica flew 3000 bombing raids over two years of continuous bombardment. In just 12 days the Axis bombers dropped more munitions on Malta than on the entire United Kingdom at the height of the Blitz. Much of Malta, especially areas around the Grand Harbour, were devastated.

    To compound the suffering, Malta's position in the centre of the Mediterranean, surrounded by enemy powers, left it vulnerable. Malta was not a self-sufficient island, and relied on imports, but the Axis powers made sure that none got through. Only emergency convoys guarded by the Royal Navy prevented starvation, and only then at great losses to ships and crew. Malta was always just a few days away from running out of supplies, and inevitably surrender.

    But the Maltese held out, and to reward their bravery the country was awarded the highest military honour by the British: The George Cross. Malta is the only country where the entire population was awarded this honour. The Maltese are very proud of this award and it forms a part of their national flag.

    The National War Museum is dedicated to the Malta's involvement in the two great wars, but especially to the Siege of Malta in World War 2. Here you will find exhibits like Faith, the one of the Gladiator fighter planes that defended the country in the early stages of the war, and an icon of Maltese resistance. But pride of place is the actual George Cross awarded to Malta in 1942.

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    Siege Bell Memorial

    by antistar Written Jan 13, 2013

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    During World War 2 the Maltese suffered greatly. An island not self-sufficient in food, they ran the risk of starvation every day they held out against the Axis powers and their siege of the island. There was a date set for surrender, the day when the stores would run dry. This day was extended with each delivery of food that made its way through the Mediterranean to the island. They also suffered one of the most devastating bombing campaigns in history, when more megatons of destruction was dropped on the island in 12 days than the entire United Kingdom in the most devastating month of the Blitz.

    In 1992, fifty years after the country was awarded a George Cross for its bravery, the Maltese built this memorial to the 7000 people who lost their lives in this conflict. The memorial consists of a ten ton bronze bell housed in a neo-classical belfry. The bell is rung at noon each day.

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    Saluting Battery

    by antistar Written Jan 11, 2013

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    When I visited the Upper Barrakka Gardens a large crowd gathered along the fence overlooking the harbour. I didn't understand because they were not looking in the direction of the best views. But then it all became clear when a deafening fusillade exploded nearby accompanied by a strong smell of gunpowder. I looked over the fence to see the smoking canons of the Saluting Battery. It seems that at noon each day the Guns of Malta fire so that ships can calibrate their chronographs. It's been that way since 1820, although the guns have been protecting the harbour for five centuries.

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    BUTTIGIEG FRANCIA PALACE

    by balhannah Written Sep 3, 2012

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    The Buttigieg Francia Palace is also on Republic street. I didn't think this building was as impressive as some I had seen, although it did have many of the enclosed balconies and a wide style range of architectural motifs from the late 19th century. The decorations combine neo-classical, neo-gothic and local traditional architectural styles.
    The building was the first to integrate timber balconies into the facade.

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    THE MALTA MEMORIAL

    by balhannah Written Sep 2, 2012

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    After viewing the Triton Fountain, I noticed some monuments in the nearby park. This Park was once an area where the Knights played a kind of tennis.

    The impressive Malta Memorial is a tall marble column, with a gilded Golden Eagle on top. It's a commemorative monument for the 2,298 Commonwealth aircrew who lost their lives in the various WWII air battles in the Mediterranean, and who have no known grave.
    After the war ended, it was Malta which was the chosen location for the memorial.

    While having a look around this park, I found more statues and plaques commemorating events in history, including the War and RAF Memorials.

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    VALLETTA TOURIST INFORMATION CENTRES

    by balhannah Written Sep 1, 2012

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    Arriving by Cruise ship, we found the Tourist Information centre located on the Valletta waterfront.
    This information centre is open Monday - Sunday from 8 - 5pm.

    Another Information centre is located at 229 Auberge D'Italie Merchants Street, Valletta
    It is open......
    Monday to Saturday: 9 - 5.30 pm
    Sundays: 9 - 1pm

    I went here first and picked up my FREE MAP and found out what I needed.

    It was here, a girl was selling tickets for the Hop on Off bus service.

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    The Holy Infirmary

    by mvtouring Written Jun 17, 2012

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    The main objective of the Knights were being an Hospitaller Order. The infirmary was built by Grandmaster Jean Levesque de la Cassiere in 1575 at the south side of Valletta. This location permitted the transportation of the sick and wounded directly from the galleys to the hospital. The sick were placed according to their illness and the mortality rate was a mere 8%.

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    Fort St Angelo, Birgu

    by kris-t Written Apr 8, 2012

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    The Castle of St Angelo is a large fortification right at the centre of Grand Harbour separated from Birgu by a narrow channel.

    In 15 30 Fort St Angelo became the seat of the Grand Master.

    Presently the fort is closed to the public due to upcoming restoration works.

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    The Pub

    by Balam Written Jul 30, 2011

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    The Pub (otherwise known as Ollie's Last Pub) is a small pub on Triq L Arcisqof, it is next door to a Restaurant called Ambrosia which seems to appear in all the guide books.
    The Pub is famous (or Infamous) as being the place that Oliver Reed who was in Valletta for the filming of Gladiator was drinking in when he had a fatal heart attack and died. The pub is only small (room for 24 people to sit) and one wall is dedicated shrine like to Oliver Reed while the rest of the pub is covered with pictures and memorabilia from many British Navy ships as it has been adopted by the navy and if there is a British war ship in the Harbour then you will find some sailors in here.

    They don't serve food and it is not always open at night

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    Hypogeum on short notice

    by DSwede Written May 5, 2011

    Due to conservation efforts and an over abundance of visitors, the Heritage Office limits the daily viewings of the Hypogeum to 80 people per day. The Hypogeum is an underground city, dating back to nearly 4000 B.C. No photos are allowed.

    Bookings and tickets can be made online, but due to small numbers of authorized spaces, the bookings may require weeks or months prior notice. That does not make it very convenient if you are visiting on a short notice trip or if that particular time happens to be very popular.

    Do not give up just yet, there is still a possibility of visiting. I spoke with the Heritage office directly and this is how:

    "Hypogeum tickets can only be purchased and not booked. This is done through our website www.heritagemalta.org (click on Buy Tickets). You first have to register.

    If tours are already fully booked, the only possibility to visit would be to take the extra tours at noon or at 4pm. These are usually reserved for VIPs, though tickets could still be available. Booking is not possible and tickets are available from the National Museum of Fine Arts in South Street Valletta on the same day or one day ahead at 25 Eur per person. No discounts apply on these last minute tickets."

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    ~ The Seige Bell ~

    by starship Updated Apr 7, 2011

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    You may not realize how many movies have been filmed in Malta, but the number is more than you might think--"Troy" (2004); "Alexander" (2004); "Gladiator"; "Midnight Express" (1978); "U-571" (2000) and many more. But it was seeing "The Siege Bell" as a scenic backdrop in "The Count of Monte Cristo"* (2002) which made me want to find out more about this graceful structure. When we cruised into Malta's Grand Harbor, I realized the Seige Bell, rising high above stone embankment, was a stunning addition to what already was the most amazing harbor I have ever seen.

    Contrary to my initial belief that the the Seige Bell was just a beautiful rotunda, I learned that it is a solemn War Memorial commemorating the victory of the Allied forces during the Second Siege of Malta from 1940-1943. This tiny country withstood constant bombardment and bravely resisted the Axis powers of Germany and Fascist Italy.

    In 1942 Malta was awarded the George Cross by England's King George VI who said "...to honour her brave people, I award the George Cross to the Island Fortress of Malta to bear witness to a heroism and devotion that will long be famous in history." A plaque states the Bell "commemorates the award of the George Cross to Malta and honours over 7000 personnel and civilians who gave their lives during the siege of Malta."

    For an even more moving experience, plan to be there when the bell is rung daily at noon.

    Bus no 98 will take you to the nearest bus stop which is at the Mediterranean Conference Centre where you can also attend "The Malta Experience."

    *The Siege Bell of Malta can be seen in the film, "Count of Monte Cristo," where the scene takes place in Monsieur Villeforte's office and the camera angle faces his desk and the large open windows behind him. The Siege Bell can be clearly seen behind Monsieur Villeforte.

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