The Maltese Islands are steeped in a vivid and colourful history, matching any country in the world. Starting in pre history and continuing with the Phoenicians in BC800 and taking in the arrival of St Paul, shipwrecked in what is now know as St Paul’s Bay in 60AD.
Many civilisations have influenced these islands, from Arab to Norman and French to English and not forgetting the splendid legacy left by the Knights of St John. All of these can be seen in the diverse culture and architecture left for us to see today.
During the Second World War Malta was besieged by the German and Italian air forces. In recognition of their bravery in holding out against terrible odds, the island was awarded the George Cross in 1942, the highest civilian award for bravery.
The citation read:
“To honour her brave people I award the George Cross to the Island Fortress of Malta to bear witness to a heroism and devotion that will long be famous in history”
All of the above and more are brought to life by the many sights, memorials and audio visual experiences that cover that fascinating history:
- Museum of Archaeology in Valletta
- War Museum at St Elmo Fort, (with re-enactors in period costume)
- Grand Master Palace
- St John’s Co-cathedral
- The Megalithic Temples (including Ggantija)
- Mdina, “silent City” (old capital of Malta)
- Mosta Dome
- National War Museum
- The Knights of Malta (Set in the gunpowder vaults)
- The Mdina Experience
- The Malta at War museum (Malta GC movie)
- The Malta Experience (Time travel 7,000 years with this audio visual attraction)
- Ta’ Mena Estate (Vineyard, winery, olive grove, fruit orchard etc)
- Lascaris War Rooms
These are just a flavour of the sights to be explored…..
The islands have a rich and diverse culture influenced by the civilizations that have fought and settled in Malta and Gozo. This has endowed Malta with a legacy, unique in the Mediterranean. It is reflected in the country’s national architecture and collections. From the 16th century Grandmasters’ Palace, which is now the parliament building, to the “Sacra Infermeria”, which is a fully equipped conference centre, the St. James Centre for Creativity – a superbly restored fortification devoted to the arts.
The arts have always played a large role in Maltese culture and continue to do so with cultural events occurring frequently. The National Museum of Fine Arts, housed in the Rococo building dating from the 1570’s, exhibits some magnificent art, ranging from the early Renaissance to modern times.
You will find many “Festa’s” held in villages and towns large and small the length and breadth of the island, these religious celebrations are both colorful and noisy, many involving dancing in local costume accompanied by firework displays.
The Maltese climate and landscape has made it ideal as a film set and many movies and television series have been filmed here, including, “Troy”, “U571”, “Munich” and “Gladiator” as well as 3 episodes of “Coronation Street” . The musical film “Popeye” with Robin Williams in the lead role was also filmed here in 1980 and the original film set built in Anchor Bay has become a must visit site for children and adults alike.