Valletta, surrounded by the sea on three sides, is without a doubt one of the most beautiful capital cities. Often described as a “city built by gentlemen for gentlemen”, Valletta, the 2018 European Capital of Culture, offers a treasure trove of historical and cultural experiences. In spite of all its glory, for many years Valletta has lived in the shadow of Sliema and St. Julian’s, Malta’s main entertainment and shopping districts. Many Maltese also preferred to reside in the surrounding towns and villages due to restrictions on car use in the capital. But all this has changed. Valletta was given a makeover to revive its cultural, social and economic scene and to mark its status as European Capital of Culture. Recent years have seen large areas of Valletta shrouded in scaffolding as its ancient palazzos are converted into boutique hotels, apartments and offices. New bars and restaurants are turning the city into a quirky place at day and at night-time. One of the key initiatives promoted by the Valletta 2018 Foundation was the regeneration of Strait Street, a narrow side road that has now been turned into a lively entertainment spot. Valletta’s restoration project also has prominent partners, including star architect Renzo Piano who designed a new city gate and a parliament building. Valletta is an exciting place to be right now and ideal for a city break.
A Living Museum
As an UNESCO World Heritage site, Valletta has no shortage of historical must-see attractions, and it is referred to as a living museum, boasting impressive architecture, churches, galleries, shops, open-air markets and the remarkable St John’s Co-Cathedral. The city is overlooking the majestic Grand Harbour, always full-to-bursting with luxurious superyachts and cruise liners. Valletta also hosts the Manoel Theatre, the country’s oldest theatre, as well as Europe’s third oldest working theatre built back in 1732. Today the Manoel stages everything from contemporary plays to opera and attracts performers from all around the world. Malta also proudly exhibits paintings by the famous artist Caravaggio who fled to Malta in the early 17th century escaping a murder charge in Rome.
St John's Co-Cathedral in Valletta
More to Come
Culture lovers have much to look forward to. There is the desire to restore an old Victorian market site in Valletta, while an exhibition of Pablo Picasso’s work is planned for next year. Malta’s Fine Arts Museum will also be given the importance it deserves when, in 2018, it will be transferred to the historic Auberge d’Italie on Merchants Street. Although Malta put Valletta forward as Capital of Culture, the organisers are committed to making the project a success for all of Malta.
Conveniently located within a couple of hours of all main European cities by air, Malta is now inviting visitors to discover the island and its cultural gem, Valletta.