Valletta, Malta


Saturday, March 25, 2017

We had planned a trip to Malta back in the fall but it didn't work out with our various schedules so we pushed it back to March. The long wait was absolutely worth it!

We drove back down to the Munich airport where we had just driven home from three days earlier from our trip to Birmingham.
Our gate was in a quiet, seemingly abandoned part of the airport we never knew existed.
The Air Malta people were super nice and let the kids check out the cockpit of the plane and chat with the pilots. First time I've ever been in the cockpit of the plane we've flown! So. Many. Buttons! Freaks me out.
Flying over the Swiss Alps for the 2nd to last time (the last time was on the way back - always so beautiful!).

After about an hour and a half we spotted the Maltese Islands in their entirety!
Malta's location in the middle of the Mediterranean has made it an alluring and much fought over prize throughout history. As a result, it has layers and layers of cultural influences throughout the island.
Chris' dad always says that if you look up and see blue skies and palm trees then life is good. I agree! As soon as we stepped off the plane we felt the warmth and sunshine lift our souls!
We've never seen an "M" for Malta plate on the mainland of Europe!
For the first time we splurged on an airbnb - I just wanted a nice and relaxing place with a view and found an amazing location across from Valletta. Usually we are dirt cheap and find the most inexpensive places we can - we figure we can tough it out for only a night or two. But I didn't want to tough it out this time!
Three bedrooms, three bathrooms, unbeatable views from every window, high ceilings, open floor plan, probably more square footage than our current home, induction stove, quiet, 16th floor with an easy and large elevator (so rare in Europe!), clean, new, updated... I could go on and on! I highly recommend staying at this place. Plus, on our last night, we got to see bats flying around on the balcony! Maybe some people would find that freaky but we LOVED it.
Chris surveying the view over Sliema from our apartment balcony.

The view off the back balcony towards Valletta. 
Manoel Island in the Marsamxett Harbor.
The Mediterranean Sea.
The pool wasn't open for the season yet so it sat there below us as one big blue tease. The kids were heartbroken as we'd been promising pool time :( Gotta read those fine print details in airbnb listings!
After checking in with our host and getting settled we headed out to The Point shopping center built into this cool old colonnade. 
Looking up amidst the urban sprawl.
Our second legit mall in as many weekends? Crazy! We found a grocery store and stocked up on some provisions, explored around this area, then turned in for the evening watching the beautiful sunset out the windows. 
The next morning we hopped in the car for the short drive over to Valletta proper. 
Blue skies and palm trees once again!
We found a parking garage just outside the city gates and passed by the Monument to Christ the King on our way to the old town.
In recent years the famous Italian architect Renzo Piano has revamped various aspects of old town Valletta, including the city gate. The new gate echoes the dimensions of the original 1633 entrance and completely did away with the 1960s gate. Piano's architecture is stark and modern with a gate framed by a pair of 25m high metal blades.
The new bridge gives visitors the chance to admire the old moat and fortifications of the city.
Piano's breathtaking new parliament building is immediately after his gateway and was completed in 2014. The design includes two massive structures of stone that almost look suspended in air and have machine cut openings to lighten their appearance.

Just beyond the parliament is the Royal Opera House. Built in the 1860s, it was destroyed by a German air raid during WWII in 1942. The gutted shell of the once imperious building was left as a reminder of war and now acts as the framework for the Renzo Piano designed open-air performance space. Unique!
Neat three dimensional sculpture on the Pjazza de Valette. 
Architectural details.

Sweet Jane in front of the fountain on Pjazza Kastilja. 
A statue of the town's founder and namesake, Grand Master Jean Parisot de la Valette. | The Maltese flag waving in the wind.

Such a pretty city with amazing vibes.
Spray painted Jesus. | The Palazzo Castellania which houses Valletta's law courts.

The British ruled Malta for 150 years from 1814 to 1964 and traces of that heritage are still found. Since cars were invented during that time period, the Maltese also drive on the left side of the road and use British outlets. But the currency is Euros. A wee bit of an identity crisis, no? :) :) :)


Our cute kiddos. If you look behind them on the right side you can see an example of the Maltese Balcony, or gallarija (the green windows sticking out). First seen on the Grand Master's palace in the late 17th century, these enclosed balconies became very popular and are a unique aspect of the island's architecture.

Up close and personal view of the gallarija.
A pleasant square near the cathedral in the center of town. Charming!
St. John's Co-Cathedral, Malta's most impressive church, was built between 1573 and 1578 and served as the communal worship spot for the Knights of St. John who ruled the island for hundreds of years.
The rather severe exterior of the building hides an exuberant Maltese baroque interior that is incredible.

The floor is a colorful patchwork mosaic of marble tomb slabs of many prominent knights of the order.

Two gorgeous Caravaggios are found in the Oratory, but alas, pictures weren't allowed.

Roads sloping down to the harbor from the center of town.
Garden. | A Maltese Cross in an iron railing.

We peeked into the courtyard of the Grand Master's Palace that was once the residence of the head of the knight's order. After Malta's independence in 1964, this building was home of the country's parliament until it was moved into the spiffy new building in 2015.
Knobs and knockers.
Our last stop in the city was at the Upper Barrakka Gardens to "ooh" and "aah" at the views of the Grand Harbor.
Oooooooh.
Aaaaaaah.

My guys.
The Newport area of the Grand Harbor.
Pretty building with some classic Maltese balconies.
Republic Street at high tide.
One great aspect of where we were staying was that it had gorgeous views across Marsamxett Harbor to Valletta. So, after exploring the town itself (and our next stop of Mdina) we walked down to the harbor front in Sliema.
Views!
It was a gorgeous evening and we enjoyed watching the waves in the harbor and admiring the view of the capital city.
Love locks with my love.
Cute kiddos. They're built in besties.
6 minute video of some highlights of getting to Malta and walking around Valletta:
Our family in Valletta, Malta on Saturday March 11th 2017:

I HIGHLY recommend a trip to Malta! I only wish we had had 1 more full day to explore the island of Gozo, even though and very very sadly, the Azure Window collapsed literally three days before our visit!

3 comments

  1. Wow wow wowwwwwwwwwwww! What a beautiful place to visit! And that airbnb you got .. wow!! How would that be to wake up to that view everyday!?!? Loving all the photos ... just gorgeous!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  2. LOVE that you went to Malta!! My in-laws grew up on Gozo and we went with out 3 kids for first time in 2014 with my 90 year old father in law. Such an amazing place to visit! Hope you got to see the Miracle at Mosta Cathedral. If you get back definitely go to Ramla Bay on Gozo - best beach ever! Beats those here in Southern California and in Hawaii - beautiful red sand that is soft and warm water - heavenly!!

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  3. I was in Malta in 2003, we stayed in the other side of the island and did a day boat trip to Gozo. It was fantastic! I really want to go back there with the kids.

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