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Valletta photos 2001

Malta, Southern Europe

Malta facts and history in brief

Valletta was named after the knight who masterminded Malta's successful stand against the Turkish siege of 1565.
Valletta became the city of the Knights of the Order of St John and the seat of Malta's government.
While traveling through the Mediterranean, Sir Walter Scott described Valletta as 'the city built by gentlemen for gentlemen'.
Today it's a beautifully preserved 16th century walled city, small enough to cover in a few hours without sweating too much in the Mediterranean sun.
In fact, the streets were carefully laid out to channel cool breezes in from the harbour. Valletta is a rough rectangle at the tip of a peninsula on Malta's northeastern coast, just a few hundred metres across in either direction and surrounded by water on its northern, eastern and southern sides.
From the City Gate at the southwestern edge of Valletta, you can walk to the centre of town through a series of squares surrounded by palaces and cathedrals.
One of the grandest is the Auberge de Castille, once the palace of the Spanish and Portuguese langue (a division of the Order of St John).
It's now the office of the prime minister and not open to the public.
Among Valletta's many fine gardens are the Upper Barrakka Gardens, originally the private gardens of the Italian Knights of St John, where you can get a magnificent view of Grand Harbour and the Cottonera.
St John's Co-Cathedral and Museum presents an austere facade, but the interior is a baroque masterpiece, with a patchwork of marble tombstones set in the floor commemorating the knights of old.
The museum houses a collection of outstanding Flemish tapestries and paintings by the Italian master Caravaggio.
The city's other major museum, the Palace of the Grand Masters, is also the seat of the president and parliament.
It's loaded with tapestries, frescoes and friezes commemorating the Great Siege.
Fort St Elmo, at the northeastern tip of the city, features guides dressed as knights and re-stagings of historic battles.

Hui Chin and I spent a lot of time, walking around Valletta, the ramparts of the fortress and enjoyed ourselves tremendously.

You can click on the photos for an enlargement.

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