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I’m writing this from a penthouse in the fortified city of Valletta, Malta. This city is also the capital and a UNESCO World Heritage site. The architecture is incredible and so is its history; I’ve been here less than a day but it’s already a spot that resonates with this gent. I arrived in the afternoon and immediately did a quick video tour of where I’m staying; it’s the stunning penthouse in the Palazzo Prince d’Orange which is located in Valletta’s city center. Afterwards it was time to start getting acquainted with my new surroundings.
Valletta was built after the Great Siege of 1565 in which the Ottoman Turks nearly took control of the Grand Harbour. It’s called that because it’s a natural harbour that is near perfect for a fleet of almost any size. Just looking out at the harbour makes me think of all the different ships which have occupied its waters since time immemorial. When you think about it, makes you realize how short all of our time is here. Also, can imagine the Turks invading the surrounding cities or boatloads of British sailors strolling the streets after months at sea without a care in the world and pockets filed with currency.
There are three other cities (Cospicua, Vittoriosa, and Senglea) across the harbor which are considerably older but Valletta Malta is without a doubt the stronghold. Sadly, lots of what was of the other cities was lost as they were bombed fiercely in World War II since Malta was a British colony. The city is surrounded with 16th century bastion walls which need to be seen to believe. At some points they are roughly 60 meets high. The bottoms are pure limestone and then what was excavated was built on top; this fortified city was literally an impenetrable fortress and unlike anything I’ve ever seen, anywhere.
Myself and fellow bloggers decided to take a quick tour today with our new friend Dan aka “Encyclopedia” who is the house master here. We stopped in at St. Paul’s Church, strolled down Republic Street, visited the old opera house, Upper Barrakka Gardens and more. St. Paul’s Church is a work of art and it holds relics such as the wrist bone of St. Paul himself as well as the column in which he was be-headed. Tomorrow we’re off to further explore our surroundings and visit some other churches but more on that later.
Republic Street is the main walking street through Valletta filled with interesting stores and characters. Afterward we made our way to the old Opera House which was bombed in World War II; what’s left has been converted into an open air theater. Following that was one of my favorite places which is the Upper Barrakka Gardens which used to be a place where the knights would let loose and enjoy in all the pleasures in which they were entitled too; use your imagination. Today, it still offers great views of the three-cities and the Grand Harbour itself. You can also get a great glimpse of the bastion walls in all their splendor.
To finish off my first impressions of this place we had several delicious Maltese dishes cooked by some gents from Gululu Restaurant. Myself and another one of the bloggers enjoyed it so much; we may be going to the restaurant itself in the next few days if time permits. We had countless dishes but some of my favorites were the rabbit, olive dip and fresh calamari. This wasn’t the type of food you’d find in a typical restaurant but the type of authentic Maltese food that locals grew up eating at Grandma’s house. The more I travel the more my interest in food is growing; how could it not with experiences like this?
Turns out I’m here until the 13th and tomorrow I’m going on two tours of the city before an afternoon of sailing. I was told you can’t come to Malta without doing some sailing from my flight attendant on Air Malta so very excited about that. Later in the week I will most likely be visiting Gozo and a few other places so stay tuned. What’s cool about this trip is that it’s a mix of organized tours and free time to explore the area on my own aka the best of both worlds in my opinion.
Have you been to Malta? I’ve got some free time and want to hear your thoughts!
This post was made possible as a result of the Blog Island Malta campaign which was created and managed by iambassador in partnership with the Malta Tourism Authority and the support of Air Malta. As always, I’d like to thank them for putting this initiative together and including Sportestery in the action; obviously all opinions are my own.