Valletta Malta

Valletta Malta is the capital city and main seaport for this little island nation. It is steeped in a long and rich history, with grand architecture that has given it well-deserved status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Many visitors will enjoy tours in Valletta and see little else of the country as they will be the passengers on cruises that dock here only for a night or two on their way to or from port stops in nearby Sicily and other Mediterranean ports. If this is all the time you have here, then it is the capital of Malta that you should see. Valletta holidays also offer much more than these magnificent city sights.

The most important things to do in Valletta are tours of the city's baroque cathedrals, churches, and palaces, most of which were built by the Knights Hospitaller during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The city's main cathedral contains a famous painting depicting the Beheading of John the Baptist by Milan master Caravaggio. It is the largest work he ever painted and the only one he signed; it is considered by many to be his crowning masterpiece. There are dozens of other lesser cathedrals and churches of architectural significance.

Many of the grand Valletta Malta palaces today are fine museums. The Grandmaster's Palace dominates the main square, and is lavishly furnished with priceless tapestries, porcelain, antiques, and other works of art. Its Armory contains the world's largest collection of its kind with complete suits of armor, weapons, parade uniforms, swords, bronze cannons, and artillery that are hundreds of years old.

The Valletta Malta National Museum of Fine Arts is located in a rococo palace dating to the 1570s, one of the country's oldest buildings. It holds the great treasures of the country including works by artists from Italy, France, England, and other European countries, as well as works by noted Maltese artists. A particularly prized possession is a watercolor by the English artist Turner depicting the city's beautiful Grand Harbour.

Anyone enjoying Valletta holidays will have the opportunity to admire this picturesque harbor. Grand Harbour is one of the city's two natural harbors (the other is a bit to the north). It is a long sheltered bay, guarded by two fortresses on either point. The view of the city when arriving by boat is quite spectacular. Here also is the ferry port for transportation to Gozo and Comino, as well as to nearby Palermo and Calabria on Sicily and Salerno on the Italian mainland.

Other things to do in Valletta include visiting the Tarxien megalithic temples that are located virtually within the city limits. This is actually a complex of four temples dating to between 3600 and 2500 B.C. that are (together with other ancient temples both on Malta and Gozo Island) a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Not all things to do in Valletta involve the rich tapestry of the country's history. If you want to dance and party, you will find excellent nightlife at clubs and discos in nearby St Julians and its neighborhood of Paceville. There are also two major casinos here. Most of the city's luxury hotels and beach resorts are also located in this area, and many of them have private beaches. This area also has several marinas used frequently by the many sailing yachts available for scenic excursions and scuba diving trips.

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