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Valletta History, Malta

The picturesque city of Valletta, Malta’s capital, lies nestled in the Grand Harbour. This picturesque Baroque city is visited by millions of tourists every year, despite its location near other major holiday destinations such as Tunis or Palermo. Malta’s colorful history accounts for many of its current attractions, and its idyllic atmosphere. This island nation, and especially Valletta, is a cultural melting pot where very different traditions and heritages come together to form a unique combination. This Valletta History Guide will give you a few historical reference points that will help you understand better this wonderful place.

Valletta History - Early history

Compared to other capitals, Valletta’s history is relatively short. The foundation of the city goes back to the 16th century, so the city is quite young in comparison with other European capitals. Valletta was established in 1566 by its namesake, Jean Parisot de la Vallette, a Frenchman who was the Grandmaster of the famous Order of St. John, a branch of the Knights Hospitaller. The city was designed from its very beginnings by Francesco Laparelli, the military engineer of Pope Pius V. The city was intended by La Vallette to be a city of gentlemen, a centre for knowledge, culture and political thought.

Laparelli designed the wall surrounding the city with a Turkish invasion in mind, but the sturdy construction is nowadays one of the city’s tourist attractions. Unlike other medieval Maltese cities, with narrow winding streets, Valletta was designed to have orderly, parallel streets. Valletta’s distinctive architecture is the work of Gerolamo Cassar, Laparelli’s successor. Many mannerist buildings were erected, and Valletta soon became a flourishing city, a strategic point coveted by many nations. Although La Vallette died before the city’s completion, he is buried in St. John’s Co-Cathedral. This Valletta History Guide recommends that you visit the Grand Master’s tomb in order to learn more about his life and personality.

Valletta History - French and British Rule

On his way to Egypt, in 1798, Napoleon Bonaparte conquered Malta. The French troops were deeply unpopular with the Maltese people, partly because of Napoleon’s policies, and because the French disdain towards Catholicism. The people of Valletta rebelled against the invaders, and with British aid managed to drive the French out of the country. Following this incident, Malta asked to become a British dominion, and a declaration of independence was signed at Valletta. The British had a great influence in shaping the city’s structure. Some buildings were demolished and new ones were built, streets were widened and various civic projects developed.

Valletta History - World War II

Malta lived in relative peace until the outbreak of the war. Valletta was scared by the Nazi and Fascist bombs, and large areas of the city were razed to the ground. Despite the deep marks left by the war, Valletta quickly regained its former beauty. However, in the years following the war, many people left the capital to move to more modern cities, and Valletta lost much of its population, but it still remains a city steeped in history and culture.

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  • GoneFishing4Bad experiences in Valletta, Malta
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    I wouldn't recommend Palazzetto Citta, I went there for my honeymoon and was very dissapointed by the lack of privacy, also I have the following comments: 1. The website says 'but also respecting your privacy as well as providing the full intimacy and warmth of your own home.' - there are...
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Valletta City Ratings

  • Rating82%
    City Rank132
  • History & Culture: rated for 100%
  • Night Life & Entertainment: rated for 40%
  • Family & Fun: rated for 50%
  • Outdoors Activities: rated for 50%
  • Food: rated for 60%
  • Sightseeing: rated for 100%
  • Shopping: rated for 65%
  • Public Transportation: rated for 90%
  • Must visit this place: rated for 78%
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