time to explore with esplora

Special opening of four sites on Independence Day

Photo: Heritage Malta

Let yourself wander through our islands’ astounding history on the 21st of September – Independence Day – as Heritage Malta opens four of its museums and sites which would otherwise be closed on Tuesdays, namely Fort St Angelo, the National Museum of Archaeology, St Paul’s Catacombs and the Palace Armoury.

Starting off in the heart of Rabat, St Paul’s Catacombs will take visitors into Malta’s mysterious ancient and medieval period. The catacombs are located on the outskirts of the old Roman capital Melite (today’s Mdina), as Roman law prohibited burials within the city. Serving as a burial ground from Punic and Roman times, the site represents the earliest and largest archaeological evidence of Christianity in Malta.

Its association to the saint derives from the myth that this cluster of catacombs was once connected with St Paul’s Grotto. Up next is the National Museum of Archaeology housed at the Auberge de Provence in Valletta, one of the most elaborately decorated Baroque buildings in the city. The outstanding collection on display here spans from the 5th to the 1st millennium BC, featuring some of the earliest prehistoric tools and artistic representations. Currently visitors may also get a glimpse of the famed Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum skulls, in the exhibition ‘Alien Headaches?

The Hypogeum Skulls Enigma’, running till the end of this year. Just a few steps away, the Palace Armoury will be another must-visit in your stroll around the capital. The Armoury is a showcase of the opulence of the Knights of St John. The most notable artefacts include suits of armour which were owned by Grand Masters Alof de Wignacourt and Jean de la Valette, armour and weapons used by the Ottoman Empire during the Great Siege of 1565, and a selection of artillery pieces.

Standing mighty across the Grand Harbour, Fort St Angelo will also be welcoming visitors on the day. During the past thousand years, whoever gained control of Fort St Angelo could effectively rule the Maltese Islands. Therefore, no other fortress has been engaged with the same intensity in the shaping of Malta’s destiny.

St Paul's Catacombs

Photo: Heritage Malta

Nowadays, this fort is considered as the boldest memorial of the strategic importance of the islands and of the innumerable lives which were sacrificed for their dominion. Opening hours for all of the above-mentioned museums and sites will be from 10:00 till 16:30 hrs. This special opening is being held in strict adherence to Public Health regulations related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Visitors must wear a face mask and respect social distancing measures. Heritage Malta reserves the right to deny access to anyone with a temperature higher than 37.2°C or feeling unwell.

For more information, visit www.heritagemalta.org