Valletta is the smallest capital city in the European Union. It is an elegant, baroque, UNESCO World Heritage city built on a stretch of land separating Malta’s two main harbours. Constructed in just 15 years after the Great Siege of 1565, this city is one of the most concentrated historic areas in the world that has preserved in near entirety its original features.
Surrounded with imposing bastions and deep moats, Valletta had a strategic importance for centuries. Its streets, planned on a grid, were meant for defence and its long flights of stairs were constructed in a way so as to allow knights in heavy armour to be able to climb steps. Its many artistic church domes and spires pierce its skyline, and richly embellished palazzos jostle for space next to towering townhouses with bright green wooden balconies.
Valletta’s baroque highlights include the elegant Auberge de Provence, now the National Museum of Archaeology; the Grand Master’s Palace, once home to the leaders of the Knights of St John; and at the recently restored Fort St Elmo, which guards the end of the peninsula.
In recent years Valletta got its share of cutting edge contemporary architecture with the new Renzo Piano minimalist City Gate and eco friendly parliament building, as well as the renovation of the Opera House which was destroyed by bombing during World War II.
Valletta is bustling place welcoming daily thousands of visitors every day. Government has most of its offices situated here and many law firms are headquartered in the streets around the Law courts. Retail shops dominate the main streets and piazzas of the city. Evenings in Valletta are less hectic than daytime but one can enjoy plenty of activities at the city’s main cultural venues or a drinks at its many cafes, restaurants and bars.
In 2018, Valletta will be Europe’s capital of culture.