Today I want to write something about our capital city Valletta because of two reasons, first because it is a cultural hub with a day’s worth of museum visits, churches and places of interest and second because I took the photo below (not usually a photographer).
Monuments in Valletta
There are a number of different monuments scattered around the city each commemorating a different event in the history of Malta. The most memorable are the Siege Bell War Memorial found near the Lower Barrakka Gardens (seen in the photo above at the tip of the city) and the Porte Des Bombes just before you enter Valletta. The Siege Bell War Memorial consists mainly of the bell itself and the small temple surrounding it. The bell is the largest in Malta and everyday at noon the bell can be heard from the cities surrounding the two harbors. The Porte Des Bombes, not exactly in Valletta but in Floriana, a suburb of the capital city, was an ornamental gate along the Floriana lines bastions which was later on reduced to the arch one can see today to accommodate the traffic we have today. Other monuments include the Queen Victoria statue, Victoria Gate, Spencer monument, Independence monument and the War Memorial. One can visit these monuments easily by walking around Valletta.
Churches in Valletta
Without a doubt, the most famous and grandiose church in Valletta is St. John’s co-cathedral . Situated in the middle of Valletta this magnificent cathedral houses a rich collection of art pieces, the most prestigious being Caravaggio’s ‘The Beheading of St. John the Baptist’. The small fee to enter the cathedral is worth every cent as the riches inside will wonder any art enthusiast as well as the lay person (like myself). As the floor is made up of marble, only flat shoes or wide heels are allowed therefore plan ahead so that you don’t have to remove your shoes. The museum housing most of the paintings is on the side of the cathedral.
There are a number of other churches around the city which one can visit for free. All of these churches host numerous paintings and sculptures, each with its own beauty and prestige. Some of these churches include Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the Anglican Cathedral of St. Paul, St. Francis of Assisi and the Parish Church of St. Augustine among others.
Squares in Valletta
By far, the most impressive square in Valletta is the Triton Square just before you enter the city. The Triton fountain in the middle of the square has become an iconic landmark both to tourists as well as locals. Its beauty shines especially at night with the lights accentuating every detail perfectly. Passing over the bridge you come into Freedom Square, housing the new Parliament and the Teatru Rjal, the open air theater. Two other important squares in Valletta are St.George’s square in the middle of Valletta in front of the Grand-master’s Palace and Castille Square in front of the Auberge de Castille over looking the Grand Harbor. Other smaller squares include Republic Square, a great place to stop for a coffee and St. John’s Square, perfect to marvel at St. John’s Cathedral.
Gardens in Valletta
The Upper Barrakka are the best place to go for a magnificent view of the Grand Harbor. These picturesque gardens are a relaxing oasis on top of the city where one can just sit down on a bench and admire the beauty of the harbor. Many locals, especially elderly like to spend their morning here just sitting on a bench reading the paper and eating a pastizz just watching the world pass by. The Lower Barrakka Gardens situated on the other side of the city are less busy but equally beautiful to visit.
Where to Eat in Valletta
Valletta is full of restaurants to satisfy everyone’s taste. From traditional Maltese dishes to Italian food and Indian curry, you are sure to find a restaurant to quench your craving. The newly refurbished Suq tal-Belt is a collection of different restaurants with a common area where to eat. It is usually quite crowded but the food is delicious. If you want a quieter setting, any one of the Valletta restaurants is a good option. A family favorite is Crianza in Archbishop’s Street next to St. George’s Square.
If you want to eat somewhere with sea views, the Valletta Waterfront is the perfect stop. With a number of restaurants each offering a different cuisine, the Valletta Waterfront is perfect to relax after a day going around Valletta. The atmosphere in the evenings is indescribable, busy with people and a backdrop of the Three Cities alight in the dusk, simply perfect.
Tip from a local: If you have time, do try out spending half an hour just sitting at the Upper Barrakka Gardens. It is both relaxing and a great photo op.
Until next time, stay safe and plan your next trip.