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Christmas in the city

Christmas in the city

To understand why the capital city of Valletta is such a special place, you would need to dig into its fascinatingly rich history. The very first foundation stone of the city was laid on 28 March, 1566, under Grand Master Jean Parisot de la Valetta of the Order of St John.

Valletta was build on what was called Mount Scebberas, a tongue of land that lies between Malta’s two natural harbours. All that existed were bare rocks and a small watchtower called St Elmo. The Knights of Malta opted for this location in order to help fortify the Order’s position. The Siege of Malta had taken place a year earlier and the victorious Grand Master was looking into improving the island’s defences.

Pope Pius V sent his foremost engineer Francesco Laparelli, to build the city both as a fortress to defend Christendom and as a cultural masterpiece. Laparelli designed Valletta based on rectangular grids of streets, which were wide and straight. The grid starts at City Gate and ends at Fort St Elmo and to fortify the city against attacks, it was surrounded by bastions, some of which were built up to 47 metres tall.

At the turn of the 16th century, Valletta had grown into a sizeable city and was a popular place to settle among the local population, while former capital Mdina lost much of its allure following the Great Siege. The first baroque buildings to be designed in Valletta were the work of Italian architect, Francesco Buonamici, the Knights’ resident engineer from 1634-1659, assisted by the Italian military architect, Floriani. He extended the fortifications to Floriana and designed churches for Valletta, Rabat and even Ħaż-Żebbuġ.

However, as we fast forward to World War II, the ‘city built by gentlemen for gentlemen’ was heavily bombed by Nazi fighter planes and many buildings were either damaged or completely destroyed. In fact, the scars of the war are still visible to this day at the site previously occupied by the former Royal Opera House in the heart of Valletta. Ruined during the war, the site is now used as an open air theatre.

Following the war, parts of the city fell into disrepair and many of its former citizens moved out to more modern housing localities on the island. The population dwindled to just 9,000 inhabitants.

In the last few years, however, many with a flair for unique architecture have made their way back into the city, investing in old properties and breathing life back into the stunning capital. Valletta is the smallest capital of the European Union and is now the island’s major commercial and financial centre.

Christmas activities in the city of valletta

Santa's fairyland

You knew this one was coming! Fairyland – Santa’s City, will be open to the public for a full month, starting on the 3rd of December. Located at the entrance of the capital city, the Triton Fountain will be transformed into an original adaptation of Santa’s City. Rudolph’s wheel, an ice rink and the man himself, Santa Claus, are just a few attractions that you will find at Fairyland. The backdrop to the festival, the Triton Fountain, is made up of three bronze Tritons holding up a large basin. It is one of Malta’s most important modernist landmarks and was designed and constructed between 1952 and 1959.

nice things market

With over 50 artists and creators joining the two-day event, the Nice Things market’s main aim is to give visitors the opportunity to peruse and browse a range of locally-made products. Between 11-12 December, the market will be displaying items ranging from unique hand-made items, home décor and prints, to accessories and clothing. The market will be taking place at Is-Suq Tal-Belt in Valletta, a location that in the 16th century, was a square called Piazza del Malcantone. It was used as part of the gallows parade of a guilty person, as well as a marketplace, where crops and goods were sold.

Waterfront Christmas Village

The Christmas Village at the Waterfront in Valletta will be running for the entire month of December. The beautiful location will be transformed into the Christmas village of your dreams, featuring giant decorations, games, activities and scrumptious seasonal food. The promenade, which used to be called the Valletta Marina, was first developed in 1727, by Grand Master Anton Manuel de Vilhena. It is said that a store-house with marble oil-vats was built, to which further stores and warehouses were added in 1752. The Waterfront now hosts several restaurants and bars and has colourful doors, symbolising the different kinds of goods that were once stored in them.


Following a 17-month intermission, Cirque du Soleil announced that Malta – a destination choice for Europe
– will be the first European country to host the show post lockdown. The new show will feature the same signature style acrobatics and visual artistry that fans expect and appreciate, as well as content tailored exclusively for Malta, celebrating the island’s cultural diversity and history. FIERI by Cirque du Soleil will be held at the Mediterranean Conference Centre (MCC) till the 19th of December. The MCC was built as a hospital in the 16th century by the order of St John and was known as Sacra Infermeria.