Marvellous Malta

I arrived here not knowing much at all about Malta (sad to say). I knew it had been ruled by various groups, knew it had been a British colony, and I think I even knew something about the Knights of St. John (probably from movies, to be honest). But I know a lot more now. And it strikes me as just what you might expect from a former British colony near Sicily. Feels both British and Italian, with a lot of other cultural influences mixed in. 

Although there are many parts of Malta to explore, we stayed in the city of Valleta. This port was one of the easiest we’ve seen, on this voyage or our last one. Our berth was just below the city wall, in a gorgeous area of gardens and monuments. We were simply able to walk straight of the ship into the city (with the help of an elevator up the city wall).

Our berth in Malta

Although we walked around a fair bit the first day off the ship, on our first day of full sightseeing we headed straight to St. John’s Co-Cathedral (the “co” means it is both a cathedral and a Bishop’s seat). Pictures cannot do it justice (but I will try). Built in the 1500s, it is awe-inspiring. It’s very, very gold. And very “knighty;” many Grand Masters of the Knights of St. John’s are interred here.

St. John’s Co-Cathedral from the balcony
One of the many overwhelming views in the church

The other really interesting aspect to this cathedral, for you art buffs out there, is the room devoted to several major works by Caravaggio. The art history prof on the ship had briefed us ahead of time, so I was able to appreciate the major differences between his style and the mannerist style that immediately proceeded it (and that decorates most of the church). It was fascinating.

The Beheading of St. John the Baptist (and other paintings) by Caravaggio
Saint Jerome Writing, Caravaggio

Back to the city. Joe was happy to once again be in a city of cats. In one particular area there are many public cat-condos. We laughed to see some of them labelled “cats,” and Joe joked that this was just in case any dogs got any bright ideas…

There is just such much beauty here. The stones glow yellow in the sun (and it was sunny the entire time we were here). It was hard to choose which photos to share, but here are some of my favorites. The city is full of statues, war memorials, and thick walls and fortifications.

Upper Barrakka Gardens

We stayed in a hotel this time, and it had a rooftop garden with a pretty pool and fantastic views. In addition to some photos, here is short video taken at sunset one night.

Night views from the rooftop of the Embassy Valletta Hotel

One day we found our way to a terrace restaurant on the side of the city walls. You have to take a tunnel under the wall to reach it. Fantastic meal in a stunning setting. We learned a lot of history and thoroughly enjoyed our visit. Next stop: Barcelona!

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