HISTORY & CULTURE
From prehistoric sights to influence from the Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs and the Order of the Knights of St John, Malta and in particular its capital city Valletta is a melting pot of history. Seen through its cathedrals, churches, temples, harbour and old town, each have their place in history and story to tell. Across the Maltese islands there are 359 churches highlighting the skyline, a feat of extraordinary dedication.
Exploring with our local Maltese guide was essential to weave the past together. The megalithic Temples of Malta were an impressive look at structures that are older than Stonehenge and the chunky ruins give a glimpse into life 6,000 years ago. By contrast, St John’s Cathedral in Valetta, built in the 16th century was a gleaming, honey-coloured building adorned with gold inside and ornately decorated in High Baroque style; look out for the Caravaggio painting.
The former capital of Malta, lost-in-time Mdina is a small hilltop city found behind high fortified walls nearly 4,000 years old, found in the 8th century BC by Phoenician Settlers and later built on in during medieval times when it was dubbed the Noble City.
WHERE TO STAY
There are lots of options for stylish stays in Valetta from the smart townhouse, the boutique bolthole to the historic hotel.
For this trip, my accommodation was AX Rosselli, which has a lovely location in central Valletta with a beautiful setting for breakfast in their café on the ancient, cobbled street. The rooftop bar and lounge has fantastic views over Valletta, and Rosselli is also renowned for its Michelin-starred restaurant Under Grain, achieved in 2020.
We would also recommend Iniala, four immaculately renovated Maltese townhouses that are decorated in an ornate Baroque style. The hotel also has a rooftop Michelin-star restaurant ION – The Harbour, a spa in the vaults and rooms with terraces overlooking the Grand Harbour.
Combine Porto with the Douro Valley in this week-long trip that merges city with country, food and wine with nature and spa.
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