A small island on the Mediterranean Sea, situated south of Sicily, Malta lies between Europe and Africa. This location makes Malta’s culture and heritage uniquely rich and fascinating. Over the small area of the island, one can find a diversity of attractions and landscapes, a rich multicultural heritage and splendid holiday resorts. In fact, the Maltese also live on the two smaller isles neighbouring Malta, Gozo and Comino.
Due to its geographical position on the crossroads of Mediterranean trails from Spain, France, Italy, the Balkans, Turkey and Africa, Malta has witnessed many different governments and cultural influences. In Ancient times, it attracted the Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginian and the Romans, then other conquerors including the Arabs, Normans, Aragonese and the Crusaders. The Knights Hospitaller ruled the island from 1530 to the end of the 18th Century, when the French took over Malta. The period of British rule began in 1800, to continue until the 1960s. Therefore, you’ll observe traces of many cultures sprinkled all around the island.
Valetta, the capital of Malta, is a magnificent maritime city boasting well-preserved 16th-century architecture. The town was one of the earliest places listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Grand Harbour of Valetta is an outstanding place that can be observed from the marvellous park known as the Upper Barracca Gardens. Other famous sights of Valetta include the impressive St John’s Co-Cathedral, the Fort of St Elmo, the Manoel Theatre which is one of the oldest operating theatres in Europe, as well as its imposing ramparts. Valetta also attracts with its picturesque narrow streets and numerous stairs, owing to the city’s location on the ridge of a peninsula. There are plenty of cruises organised around the coastline, which allow you to admire the capital from the sea.
Within a close distance from Valetta, there are two exceptionally interesting sights dating back to prehistoric times. One of them is the Hal Salfieni Hypogeum, an amazing underground temple and necropolis. The other monument, four imposing megalith structures known as the Tarxian Temples, were built in the 3rd and 2nd millennium BC. Cottonera, or the Three Cities, consists of Ancient Vittoriosa, Cospicua and Senglea – these towns are particularly picturesque, and Vittoriosa, also known as Birgu, is worth a visit thanks to stunning Fort St Angelo, a former abode of the Grand Masters of Knights Hospitaller. Another must-see place in Malta is Mdina, the historic capital, a small but extremely picturesque town that claims some 3,000 years of history. Narrow cobblestone streets, palaces of Maltese aristocracy and the amazing Cathedral of St Paul all make a unique impression. The town of Rabat, originally a suburb of Mdina, should be visited for St Paul’s Church and Grotto, where the saint lived, the Catacombs of St Paul and St Agatha, as well as the Wignacourt Museum.
Malta is full of historical sights, but it’s also a perfect destination for those who want to simply relax on the beach. There are a number of great resorts, such as trendy Sliema or Ramla Beach, tempting with both sandy and rocky beaches, the azure waters of the Mediterranean Sea, high temperatures and sunny summers. The interiors of the three Maltese islands offer excellent opportunities to walk, hike or bicycle. Gozo and Comino are perfect for those who want to spend their holidays off the beaten track.
Malta has everything that’s needed to spend excellent holidays – whether you’re considering some sightseeing, exploring museums and ruins, swimming and sunbathing, exploring beautiful countryside, enjoying masterpieces of art, scuba-diving, clubbing, hiking or a mix of all these activities. Apart from being saturated with attractions, it’s characterised by a wonderful Mediterranean climate which makes it a top destination during most of the year.