time to explore with esplora
MALTESE HERITAGE HIGHLIGHTS
MALTESE HERITAGE HIGHLIGHTS
Travel through the centuries, from the Neolithic to the Roman. Visit the early modern religious powerhouse that was the Inquisitor’s Palace, take in the breathtaking panorama of the Grand Harbour on one of Fort St Elmo’s bastions and admire the resilience of the Maltese nation in the National War Museum.
We have picked out five top Heritage highlights across the breadth and span of the islands to provide a fascinating introduction to Malta’s rich past.
ĦAL SAFLIENI HYPOGEUM
Begin your tour in the south of Malta by exploring the unique subterranean rock-cut chambers of the Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum. Consisting of three separate interconnected levels, this UNESCO World Heritage Site was in use between 4000BC and 1500BC. The burial complex features intricate red ochre motifs of spirals, spots and honeycombs on the walls and ceiling and an ‘Oracle’ room, so named because of a niche with acoustic properties.
Situated close by in the heart of the historical city of Vittoriosa, the Baroque seat of the Inquisition in Malta is the only inquisitorial palace in the world still presented as such and made accessible to the public.
Together with the National Museum of Ethnography, visitors can explore the spine-chilling setting of the Holy Office Tribunal, the prison complex and torture chamber. Less steely nerves are required to saunter through the more sophisticated ambience of the piano nobile and private quarters inhabited by a roll call of austere spiritual judges that included two future Popes amongst them.
FORT ST ELMO
Pop on a short ferry ride over to the capital of Valletta, to visit the impressive grounds of Fort St Elmo, which houses the National War Museum and two chapels dedicated to St Anne.
Originally intended as a war machine, the star- shaped fort was built in a strategic location at the tip of the Sceberras peninsula in 1552, to face and hold back the wrath of the Ottoman armada. Under British rule, Fort St Elmo was extensively upgraded for new artillery and even played an important role in the defence of Malta during the Second World War blitz.
Notable artefacts within the museum include military armour of the Order of St John and the Ottoman Turks, the Gloster Sea Gladiator N5520 FAITH, Roosevelt’s Jeep ‘Husky’, and Malta’s award for gallantry, the George Cross.
Valletta is a transport hub providing easy access to your next port of call, a Roman townhouse next to the Medieval capital of Mdina. Accidentally discovered in 1881, the Domvs Romana in Rabat sheds light on the private life and habits of an ancient Roman aristocrat.
The intricate mosaics and the only set of marble statues portraying Emperor Claudius and his family found in a private house anywhere in the world bear testimony to the original affluence of this dwelling.
Located on Gozo, Malta’s smaller sister island, a picturesque 25-minute ferry ride across the channel, Ġgantija Temples are considered to be a milestone in humankind’s technological evolution. Prepare to be awed by the enormous megaliths of this UNESCO World Heritage Site, which according to local folklore, were believed to have been erected by a giantess who fed on a diet of broad beans and honey.
Consisting of two structures built between c.3600 and c.3200BC, the temples that lie on the extraordinary archaeological landscape of the Xagħra plateau command excellent views of the Gozitan countryside.