Valletta Unveiled: Five Intriguing Facts About Malta's Historic Capital
Valletta, the capital of Malta, is a picturesque location that skilfully combines history, architecture, and culture. To truly comprehend the essence of this city, we will delve deeper into its interesting characteristics and peel back the curtain on its extraordinary history. Valletta’s continued attraction is impacted by its identity as the 2018 European Capital of Culture, its status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, its association with Grand Master Jean Parisot de Valette, its strategic importance, its cultural variety, and more. Consequently, OhMyMalta has compiled five interesting facts, delineating Valletta’s brilliance, and uniqueness.
Fact 1: A UNESCO World Heritage Site
The fact that Valletta is a UNESCO World Heritage Site acknowledges the importance of its architecture and history. Francesco Laparelli, a military architect, methodically planned out the whole town in the 16th century, blending Baroque construction, fortifications, and a grid system that is both practical and visually attractive. The construction of Valletta served a strategic purpose in addition to being an impressive achievement of architecture. Its construction was overseen by the Knights of St. John, who sought to build a fortress city that would protect the island and stand as a testament to their strength and dedication.
The defences of the city, including Fort St. Elmo and Fort St. Angelo, had seen better days, but the Great Siege of 1565 left its mark. The Ottomans, headed by Suleiman the Magnificent, attempted to conquer Malta during this famous conflict, but the Knights, led by Grand Master Jean Parisot de Valette, valiantly resisted. The Ottomans had to contend with strong defences, and the city’s tenacity was crucial to the Ottomans’ final loss. This period in Valletta’s history provides evidence of the importance and tenacity of the city.
Fact 2: Valletta is the Smallest European Capital
With a land area of about 0.55 square kilometres and a population of little over 7,000, Valletta proudly claims the distinction as Europe’s smallest capital. Valletta, however, has an exceptional collection of historical, religious, artistic, and military assets despite its small size.
The beauty of Valletta is revealed in its baroque buildings, stunning artwork, and winding lanes with distinctive inclinations. Visitors may find elaborate architectural wonders, Maltese balconies with beautiful decorations, niches containing renowned saint statues, and Valletta’s characteristic antique store signs while strolling its small streets. The clever shallow steps in the city, which were once built for warriors wearing armour, provide a look into its interesting past. Well-preserved palaces and auberges from the 16th century may be seen strewn over the cityscape, each adding to the attraction of this Renaissance city. The beautiful gardens that cascade over the magnificent walls and provide tourists unrivalled views of the gorgeous bay are also not to be missed.
Fact 3: Strategic Location and Historical Significance
Valletta’s strategic location at the Mediterranean’s crossroads has made it a prized possession throughout history. Its location gives it control over important maritime routes and acts as a powerful defence against possible attackers. The defences of the city, known for their impregnability, have a long and colourful history. Fort St. Elmo is one of them and serves as a symbol of the city’s tenacity and historical importance.
The Great Siege of 1565 was a spectacular and violently fought war that is forever associated with Fort St. Elmo. The Ottomans launched a relentless attack on the fort’s walls in an effort to take Valletta. This fierce battle resulted in severe deaths on both sides, making it an important chapter in the siege’s history. Fort St. Elmo eventually fell, but not before its tenacious defence exacted a heavy price on the invaders and marked a crucial turning point in the epic war for control of the city. The history of Valletta, which is intricately linked to such occurrences, highlights its continued relevance as a symbol of resiliency and strategic significance in the Mediterranean area.
Fact 4: Home to Remarkable Art and Culture
The numerous museums, galleries, and historical places of Valletta are evidence of its cultural diversity. Visitors may travel back in time and take in the splendour of the past at the Grandmaster’s Palace, a magnificent architectural wonder. The State Rooms provide an insight into the splendour of the Knights of St. John thanks to their beautiful tapestries and murals. For those who enjoy history, the Palace Armory’s vast collection of weapons and armour is a gold mine. The National Museum of Fine Arts, which displays the creations of Maltese artists from various ages, is also located in the city.
In addition to its museums, Valletta conducts a wide range of cultural gatherings and festivals to honour its history and originality. An annual highlight, the Malta International Arts Festival, presents a broad selection of performances, exhibits, and installations. With the help of this event, the city is transformed into a thriving centre of culture that welcomes both residents and tourists from across the world.
Fact 5: European Capital of Culture 2018
Valletta was named the 2018 European Capital of Culture. This award honoured the city’s dedication to promoting innovation and appreciating its cultural variety. Valletta was a hive of activity all year long, holding a variety of cultural events, concerts, exhibits, and neighbourhood projects. The city’s culture was emphasised by these events in a variety of ways, from its historical past to its modern cultural scene. Valletta’s continuous initiatives to support artistic expression and cultural interaction reflect the legacy of serving as the European Capital of Culture.
In actuality, Valletta is the first European World Heritage City to be named European Capital of Culture. In a magnificent festival of music, dancing, and light, the city’s majestic walls and Baroque palaces shone beneath Malta’s bright sun. On the day of the celebration, Valletta and its winding streets came alive as 1,000 artists and 450 production team members gathered under the spotlights to honour Malta’s cultural traditions and its proud significant European history. The event was attended by no less than 130,000 people, nearly a third of the island’s population.