Experiencing Malta – Valletta

People might say that Valletta is a rather boring place, meaning that the city is not full of sights such as churches, parks and other typical touristic spots. And, yes, they are right! But Valletta fascinates by its pure beauty…DSC09314

I didn’t really know what to expect when going to Valletta, because I don’t like to spoil myself. We went to Valletta on our first real vacation day by foot. We started at our hotel in Sliema and walked the beach walk along the coast. At some point, we had to leave the coast, taking some smaller streets and came to the harbor of Sliema. DSC09257

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It’s a small harbor with a lot of ticket shops for boat trips along the coast of Sliema or to Valletta or even Sicily. We just enjoyed the sun, got breakfast and a coffee and relaxed. It was a nice walk along the bays and lagoons. We always had Valletta in view, but every time we finished a bay, there was another one coming. It was amazing, slowely getting closer and discovering more and more of this old city.

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In the harbor of Sliema, there is also a small island, called Manoel Island. We didn’t really get to know what can be found there, but from the distance it looks like an old cloister which might be used as a concert area or so. But basically, I think it’s used as a harbor for all of the big ships and luxurious yachts.

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While most of the people went by bus to Valletta, we took the street and climbed up the small hill to the city center. The whole city is surrounded by an old city wall, sometimes carved  into the lime stone.

The most touristic important spot of Valletta is around the St. John’s Co Cathedral which was under construction when we were there. DSC09278

It’s probably a really nice building and as far as I can say from the post cards and pictures I found on the Internet, the inner part is absolutely beautiful, but we didn’t want to spent 10€ for a church and a museum. We wanted to walk around and discover a more ancient Valletta.

Our way led us to the Siege Bell War Memorial, where we just missed the bell by some minutes. This spot is a perfect location to take nice shots of the blue sea, the boats and big ships as well as a nice building along the water which I think were old garages for boats. You also have a nice view to the surrounding cities.

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I absolutely loved the architecture of Valletta with its colorful oriels and pompous pillars. The buildings are rather small, but high and unique with the different styles and colors.

The best view is the one towards the Carmelite Church and the St. Paul’s Anglican Pro-Cathedral. And I had the feeling that both are kind of underestimated. But both are very beautiful and worth to visit. Especially the Carmelite Church due to its nice copula.

We spent a lot of time at the Lower Barrakka Gardens, drinking cider and looking around. There is a nice takeaway with some chairs and tables and as it is close to the harbor of Valletta, you can watch the ships. From the Msida Bastion Historic Garden we had a nice view at the harbor of Sliema as well as Manoel Island.

From the Upper Barrakka Garden we had a wonderful view at the Three Sister Cities Vittoriosa, Senglea and Cospicua. The three cities are said to be more ancient and originally Maltese compared to Valletta. Unfortunately, we didn’t make it there.

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Fort St. Angelo in Vittoriosa (right) and parts of Villa Bighi (left)

Another nice spot in Valletta, and probably a really good place to have dinner in summer is the Waterfront of Valletta. Due to the carnival season, all balconies were decorated with  huge masks. Unfortunately, as it was still chilly, most of the restaurants built tents with heating and so, we could not really enjoy the beauty of this place. 20170226_113817-01-01

We actually did not enter the Fort St. Elmo as it only provides a war museum. Unfortunately, you can not really see the fort from the city (and I’m not sure whether you can from the seaside). But for everyone who is interested in the war around Malta as well as uniforms, weapons and stuff like that, it is probably a good museum. We also did not take one of the horse-drawn carriage, but there were a lot of them and after negotiating a bit, you might not pay so much.

Another maybe interesting thing is the Saluting Battery at the Upper Barrakka Gardens. From the 1820’s a gun was fired at mid-day to signal out the exact hour of the day by which Ship Masters would calibrate their chronographs on board. Nowadays, it’s still done for the tourists and visitors of Valletta. We also missed it, but we watched a Youtube video and I guess, every one should judge by her- or himself whether it’s worth to wait for it or not 😉

Summary

For me, the walk from Sliema to Valletta was an absolutely highlight of the vacation and I liked the slow progress, the closeness to the people and just having a nice scenery while having breakfast. In contrast to other people I talked with, I really liked Valletta. Actually, we went there twice because of the Carnival which I will write about another time point and I always liked being there. Of course, the main streets were crowded and one shopping area is followed by another. However, when walking apart the touristic ways, Valletta is a fantastic city and I liked the bars and cafés we went inside very much. Especially, I liked Il Kapitali.

Valletta is a completely different capital compared to the big cities such as Berlin, Paris or Brussels. And I definitively will come back!

 

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