Malta: Main Sights
A Microcosm of the Mediterranean
While on holiday in Malta, you will be spoilt for choice on places to see. The island of Malta offers the attraction of clear blue waters, secluded bays and sandy beaches while in the towns there are medieval walled citadels, splendid baroque churches and palaces to reflect the rich history of the islands.
Co-Cathedral of St John
Located in Malta's vibrant capital city Valletta, the Co-Cathedral of St John has a very austere exterior, but explore the interior and you will discover a heady mixture of gilded tracery, marble mosaic floors and a lapis lazuli altar. Behind the altar is a remarkable marble group of the Baptism of Christ. In the Oratory is the painting by Caravaggio of the beheading of St John.
The Grand Master’s Palace
The Grand Master's Palace, situated in Republic Street, was built 500 years ago as the abode of the Grand Master of the Order of St John. The palace contains a series of paintings that depict the great siege of 1565. These were painted by a pupil of Michelangelo. Also featured is a group of tapestries originally designed for Louis XIV. Additionally, the palace houses an armory which has one of the best collections in existence.
The Maltese town of Sliema faces the capital city Valletta. It is large, modern and cosmopolitan, and is positively bustling with hotels, shops, cafés, cinemas, restaurants, bars, clubs and discos. The shoreline here is rocky, but is still good for bathing. The town is close to St Julian’s, also a lively and popular resort area.
Situated on a high plateau towering over the rest of the island, Mdina was once Malta’s capital. The citadel here is one of the greatest surviving examples of a medieval walled city. To enter Mdina you have to go via a stone drawbridge which will lead you to to a maze of narrow streets, of which are lined with churches, monasteries and palaces, connected by tiny piazzas. The Norman-style Palazzo Falzon is of particular interest, as it has a stunning collection of antique weapons and pottery as well as a cathedral. There is also a museum, which still houses an amazing collection of art treasures - these are survivals from the sacking the town suffered at the hands of the French during the 18th century. Visitors to Malta have a breathtaking view of the surrounding fields and villages, and also of St Paul’s Bay from Bastion Square.
Rabat is a lovely area to visit in Malta - it boasts some beautfiul Baroque churches, St Paul’s and St Agatha’s Catacombs and the Roman Villa. There are many interesting places within close proximity to the town that are ideal for taking a walk to. Examples include the Chadwick Lake, Dingli Cliffs and Verdala Castle which overlooks Buskett Gardens, Malta's only wooded area. The Blue Grotto on the southwest shore is where, according to legend, sirens bewitched seafarers with their songs. The brilliant colors of the corals and minerals in the limestone are reflected in four caves. The most spectacular of these is the Blue Grotto itself - it is best viewed early in the morning when the sea is calm. You can catch a bus to an embarkation point in Valletta where a boat can be taken to the caves.
Typical Maltese fishing communities such as Birzebbugia, Marsacala and Marsaxlokk are scattered along the coves and inlets at the very southern end of Malta. The waterfronts are crowded with fishing nets and colourfully painted boats, and the fresh catch of the day can be eaten at the family-run tavernas.