The tiny Maltese archipelago, with only three inhabited islands and even those mostly rocky, doesn’t sound like much, but it has one of the most incredibly rich histories and cultures in Europe. Malta’s has been inhabited since the stone age, and it is a melting pot of cultures from all around the Mediterranean region. The cuisine has Sicilian influences, the language is based on Arabic, and the culture was marked by Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Normans, Crusaders, the French and the British, who made it into a colony. Today, Malta has many things to be proud of, and just as many things to show to its visitors. Here are 5 stunning attractions in Malta.
St. John’s Co Cathedral, Valletta
St. John’s Co Cathedral is located in the old part of Valletta, the Maltese capital, in one of the most well preserved medieval towns in Europe. The cathedral is not much to look at on the outside, but the interior is nothing less than stunning. Each subgrouping of the Knights Hospitaller who dominate Malta has their own little chapel along the nave, each more beautiful than the other.
Fort St Angelo, Cottonera
Fort St Angelo might just be one of the oldest structures in Malta – parts of it are supposed to date back to Roman times. The fort played an important role in Maltese history, and in the 16th century is was targeted by a huge Turkish army lead by Suleiman. The ruins are not very well restored, but that only adds to their charm.
Marsaxlokk is a quaint fishing village not far from Valletta, which sprung up in Roman times around a temple dedicated to the goddess Juno. There are no visible ruins, but it’s clear that the village is old – and more importantly, unspoiled. There are no modern buildings in sight, and the waterfront is crowded with traditional luzzu boats, built according to age-old Phoenician designs.
Mdina is the old capital of Malta, and today one of its chief tourist attractions. The town is around 3000 years ago according to findings, and was a capital city until the 16th century until the arrival of the Knights, who moved the capital to Birgu. This meant that Mdina was seldom the target of attacks and sieges, and the town is beautifully preserved and almost deserted – there are only about 400 inhabitants left.
The catacombs of St. Paul and St. Agatha, Rabat
This huge system of underground tunnels dates back to the 4th-9th centuries, and it started out as a Phoenician cemetery outside the walls of Mdina. The tunnel complex comprises over twenty tunnels, but only a few of them are open to the public. You can see almost every kind of tomb ever used in Malta, but the most interesting ones are the so-called baldacchino tombs with the elaborately decorated arches.
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