Malta

Malta is an island located in the middle of the Mediterranean sea around 60 miles away from Sicily and 290 km from North Africa. It forms part of the Maltese Archipelago which also contains another 3 islands Gozo, Comino and the uninhabited islet of Filfla, Malta is the largest of the four at just 316 square kilometers.

Even though small in size Malta is rich in History, in fact it has 9 world heritage sites starting from a collection of Megalithic Temples which are spread across the islands, these are also recognized to be the oldest free standing structures on Earth (yes even older then the Pyramids). In total there are Eleven prehistoric monuments, of which are seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites were built between 5000BC - 700BC. The two temples of Ggantija are on the island of Gozo notable for their Bronze Age structures. The temples in Malta are Hagar Qim, Mnajdra and Tarxien. Ta'Hagrat and Skorba show their tradition of the temple-building has handed down in Malta. The Hal-Saflieni Hypogeum is an enormous structure excavated 2500 BC and is the only known example on earth of subterranean structure built during the Bronze Age, and is indeed classified separately from the other seven Temples in UNESCO's World Heritage Sites.

Malta's capital city Valletta is also a World Heritage Site UNESCO, and was added to its list in the 1980's. The city is named after famous Grandmaster of the Knights of St John (also known as Knights of Malta) Jean Parisot de la Vallette who succeeded in defending the Island from Ottoman invasion at the Great Siege of Malta in 1565, and started the process of building the city by laying its very first stone. Malta also contains various towers and fortifications which where built during the era of the knights of St John, who preferred to fortify the ports rather then the old capital city of Mdina (previously known as Medina).

Malta is also a country known for its religious beliefs, and for architectural and artistic richness found in its Churches, first introduced to the Christian faith by St Paul during an unexpected trip. Out of the hundreds of churches and chapels across the Maltese Islands, St John's Co-Cathedral noticeably stands out, designed by Girolomo Cassar (1520-1586) in 16th century the church is dedicated to St John the Baptist, Patron Saint of the Order. It's floor is made up of marble under which there are over 400 tombs of the Knights, headstones, decorated with colorful inlaid marble slab. The church is also well known for the Caravaggio's painting depicting the beheading of St John.

Other must-visit churches include Ta' Pinu in Gozo, where our lady is said to have appeared. And Mosta's parish church, which has the third largest unsupported dome in the world. Interestingly enough this very dome was hit during the 2nd world-war however the shell failed to explode and nobody was injured in the process. The shell is now found in a museum attached to the church which includes pictures taken at the time.

This brings us to a more modern area in Maltese History, a number of Museums across the island portray indeed this era, especially the National War Museum which contains authentic copies of planes used throughout the war. The Malta Maritime Museum also contains ships from this era and beyond. Malta is indeed a tiny country, but rich in history and culture. Though comprehensive this article does not mention all that one can find in Malta indeed it is often called an “open air museum”, thus we invite you to explore Malta's Attraction Map to find out more.