Valletta – a museum in the open air

          Valletta, called also a museum in the open air, is the smallest the southernmost capital of Europe. It fascinates with its unusual atmosphere, full of magic and sweetness. Valletta may be seen around a hundred times and still it will let us explore something new. Its thick walls, variegated window shutters and the ivory colour buildings besprinkled with a bit of magic dust, matches to the azure of the serene sky perfectly. Because of the steep streets of Valletta, it is worth providing ourselves with comfortable shoes with a flat sole, for what is waiting us is a walk uphill and downhill.

Valletta gives us a lot of opportunities of admiring the views from a high perspective point, which we will explore heading for Hasting Gardens, Upper and Lower Barracca Gardens. From those places we can relish the view at the sea, port and sprawl. The gardens are full of plants; palm trees, colourful flowers and shrubs.

Every lover of art, history (and not only) for sure should make for Saint John’s CoCathedral. From outsider the church doesn’t look the best, but as it’s known, a book shouldn’t be judged by its cover. When we go inside, some sparks will appear in the eyes of more than one person at the sight of the paintings, gilts and many various ornaments. The church shocks with the baroque style and splendour till dizziness. It is also worth straining our neck and look upward, for our eyes will come across painted scenes of John the Baptist’s life. In the cathedral there are also the paintings of many famous artists like Caravaggio. At every painting there are plates with explanations, and at the entrance you can get an individual guide book.

What cannot be slipped by us is for sure a construction site, that is the Royal Opera House which was destroyed many times – now it is being reconstructed.

One of the most recognisable buildings in Valletta is Basilica of Our Lady of Mount Carmel whose dome can be seen from afar. In addition, it’s worth giving a look into St Francis of Assisi Church and Collegiate Parish Church of St Paul’s Shipwreck which hides precious relics.

At the very end of the island there is Fort Saint Elmo (next to the War Museum) that exsists longer than the capital city itself. On the walls we can see marks of the battles which took place during the Great Siege of Malta in XVI century. Alongshore the view at the city can be admired, and what adds some picturesqueness are charming boats and the fishermen’s small houses.

In Valletta we get on a small ship-taxi (they shuttle every 15 minutes) and after a moment we are in Vittoriosa.

It is one of the Three Cities in which we can observe the smallest damages of the World War Two comparing to Cospicua and Senglea. Three Cities are treated as one agglomeration and it is hard to notice the clear borders between them. All Birgu, Bormla and Isla (former names of Three Cities) will do great for a walk and sinking oneself in its streets. Visiting Vittoriosa, one should pay attention to St. Lawrence’s Church – the first temple of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem in Malta, Maritime Museum – something for the lovers of ships and naval battles; and situated in the city centre the Inquisitor’s Palace – the place of inquisition of XVI to XVIII century. A mandatory pilgrimage, banishment or sometimes even capital punishment were involved in the penalties determined out of heresy.

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