5 tips for Valletta

Valletta Panorama
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Valletta, the capital of Malta, stands proudly in the northeast of the Mediterranean island and fascinates with its rich cultural heritage and eventful history. Experience the smallest capital of Europe, which is also one of the best fortified cities and attracts with numerous attractions. Whether you are interested in beautiful views, special historical moments or architecture, Valletta has corners for every interest. The Knights of Malta once worked here, many baroque buildings await you next to the impressive cathedral and the beautiful natural harbor should also not be missed during a visit to Valletta.

Tip 1: St. John’s Co-Cathedral

The Co-Cathedral was built between 1573 and 1577, also under the direction of Geralomo Cassar. Do not be deceived by the simple exterior of the limestone building, because inside the St. Johns Co-Cathedral of Valletta shines in full splendor and is worth a visit in any case. By the way, the somewhat peculiar name of the cathedral came from the fact that the Maltese archbishop used this cathedral in Valletta as a second seat. Once the cathedral was built as the main church for the Order of Malta and includes a whole 12 apses. In keeping with the eight noble houses and the eight hostels of the order, 8 apses in the church were also specially designed.

St. John’s Co-Cathedral in Valletta
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The floor of the church represents tombs, because under the floor and in the crypt were buried numerous knights of the Order and almost all the Grand Masters. The marble inlays in the floor marking the tombs are also extraordinary. In addition, there are magnificent tapestries and paintings worth seeing in the Valletta Cathedral. Especially the “Beheading of John the Baptist” by Caravaggio is worth mentioning here.

Tip 2: Upper Barrakka Gardens

If you visit Valletta, don’t miss the magnificent view from the Upper Barrakka Gardens over the Grand Harbor. This is the best viewpoint in the whole of Malta.

An extremely popular meeting place for young and old, very romantic and great for taking beautiful souvenir photos.

From the gardens you can look over to the “Three Towns” of Vittorosia, Senglea and Cospicua and have an overwhelming view not only of these three historic places, but also of the great shipyard, Fort St. Angelo and the Valletta Waterfront, where many cruise ships dock. Likewise, one can see to Floriana, the suburb of Valletta.

Upper Barrakka Gardens in Valletta
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The Barakka Garden itself is a stylishly landscaped garden whose origins date back to 1661. Originally, this was a private garden of the Knights of St. John, whose lodgings were nearby. In 1824, the complex was opened to the public. In addition to many different plants in the garden, along the paths there are busts and statues of personalities who shaped the history of Malta.

The garden area invites you to stay and relax. The complex is located very close to the Auberge de Castille, the current residence of the Maltese Prime Minister.

There is also an elevator at Upper Barrakka Gardens that can be used to get to the Valletta Waterfront, which is the harbor where the large cruise ships are located. While Upper Barrakka Gardens itself does not charge an entrance fee, the elevator does.

Tip 3: Fort Saint Elmo

From the Barrakka Gardens, it seems as if Saint Elmo Fortress is watching over Valletta. Looking at the history of the fortress and city, this impression is not entirely wrong. Built in the 17th century by the Knights of Malta, Saint Elmo Fortress – as Malta’s most important fortress – has been destroyed and rebuilt several times by attacks.

Fort St Elmo, Valletta, Malta, aerial view

To get a feel for its massive size, we recommend you walk along the fortress walls. Also worthwhile is a tour of the port of Valletta from where you have a great view of the Saint Elmo fortress.

In any case, you should not miss the interior of the fortress. During a guided tour you will learn hidden secrets about the history of Malta.

Tip 4: Tritons’ Fountain

The Triton Fountain is a fountain, located in the Triton Fountain Square, not far from the City Gate, in Valletta. The fountain was ceremonially inaugurated on May 16, 1959, after which the square received its name Triton Fountain Square.

Tritons' Fountain in Valletta
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The fountain consists of three 2.50m high tritons, which direct their gaze towards the City Gate. The figures stand on a pedestal, which is slightly elevated in a round water basin, 16 m in diameter.

Tip 5: Grandmaster’s Palace

The Grand Master’s Palace in Valletta was built as early as the 16th century and served as a private palace and seat of government for numerous Grand Masters of Malta until 1798. Even today, the Grand Master’s Palace has a representative function as the official residence of the President of Malta.

Neptune Courtyard in Grandmaster Palace at Valletta
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Although the facade of the palace is quite plain and inconspicuous from the outside, the first impression changes abruptly when you look into the courtyards, the State Rooms, the Hall of Arms and the corridors…

A special sight is the Supreme Council Hall of the palace with its magnificent frescoes!

Once inside, it is not difficult to understand why the Grand Master’s Palace is one of the most visited sights in Valletta and even all of Malta. However, when official state receptions are held at the palace, the building is closed to visitors.