Created by Lynn May Gosselin.
Walking through the ancient streets, you can almost feel the living history of the crusades as you explore the capital city of Malta, Valleta.
Valleta was founded in 1565 as refuge for men returning from the crusades and now this small island country can be your refuge from the frenetic energy of your every day life. Spending time here will not only take you back in time to days gone by but inspire you with a rich cultural heritage, stunning new architecture and a vibrant nightlife, all jam packed onto one tiny island nation. Here are five things not to miss while adventuring in the beautiful city of Valleta.
One – Fort Saint Elmo
The island of Malta is rich with history, buildings, and forts to explore. One of the most famous landmarks, Fort Saint Elmo has been closed to the public for years, undergoing massive archeological restoration after being designated as one of the 100 most endangered sites in the world. Now, the doors of this 540,000-sqaure foot fortress are opening again for visitors to explore. The seaward facing fort sits on the tip of the city overlooking the ocean so come not only to learn about the role the Saint Elmo played in the 1565 Great Siege of Malta but for some impressive sea views.
Two – Renzo Piano
Architecture buffs will be inspired by two amazing new creations from famed architect Renzo Piano. The Italian Pritzker Prize winning designer of The Shard in London has created not only a new entrance to the city but an open-air theatre with future plans to for a new parliament building as well. His design of a new entrance to the city is the perfect welcome to visitors and the theatre, located with the ruins of the former Royal Opera House will surely be the site of many amazing productions.
Three – Strait Street
Once avoided and thought to be seedy, Strait Street in the heart of Valleta has seen a recent revival, becoming the centre of nightlife in the city. Trying to get rid of the red light reputation, bars like Tico Tico at 61 Strait Street are serving up amazing tapas and refreshing wine. Patrons spill out onto the cobblestone streets with a lively atmosphere that is anything but avoidable. Small wood tables line the long and intimate bright room of Tico Tico. Follow Tico Tico on Facebook for daily menu creations and events at this trendy spot.
Four – Fine Dining
Also aiding in the revitalization of Strait Street, Palazzo Preca Restaurant at 54 Strait Street is the hottest fine dining restaurant in the city. Started by the Preca sisters, these twenty-something young chefs are serving upscale traditional Mediterranean cuisines, with a modern twist. Palazzo Preca is a local favorite and always packed so be sure to make a reservation by phone only. The sisters motto is where you meet, eat and greet, so book a table and do just that.
Five – Meet the Knights
The history of the crusades runs through every lane, street and alleyway in Valleta. Once home to the courageous Knights of St. John and now the President of Malta, a stop at the Grand Master’s Palace to learn more about these fearless men is a must. The State Apartments and Armory are open to the public, featuring interesting exhibits about the lives of the soldiers who used to call Valleta home. With more than 6000 medieval amours on display and even more weapons, a few hours here will give you a strong sense of the past of this city.