Malta, anciently called Melìta by the Greeks for the presence of many beehives on the island, is a spectacular land not only from a nature point of view but also from a historical one: it is the island of the Order of Knights of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem, but also of prehistoric sites recognised as World Heritage by UNESCO. Its capital, Valletta, encloses the most authentic soul of Malta and its thousand facets.
Valletta Airport is in Luqa, just 5 km from the centre of the capital of Malta and is the only airport throughout the island. Despite it is a small airport, it is equipped with all the facilities useful for travellers: luggage storage, tourism office, duty-free, restoration areas, Wi-Fi and Valletta Lounge room.
The best way to discover the beauties of the Maltese capital and its surroundings is to take advantage of the car rental service at Valletta Airport; you just have to drive along the Road 6 for 20 minutes to reach Valletta city centre by car from the airport.
Valletta: points of interest
Walter Scott defined Valletta “a city built by gentlemen for gentlemen”: it is, indeed, an elegant city surrounded by walls and, even if it is small, it encloses a true treasure, result of 3000 years of history.
The founder of the city was Jean Parisot de la Vallette, known for having been Grandmaster of the Order of Saint John, whose armour is preserved today in the Armory of the Grandmaster’s Palace with other armours of the Knights of Malta and weapons such as crossbows, muskets and swords dating back to the period between the XVI and the XVIII centuries.
The Grandmaster’s Palace, in St. George Square, is one of the most sumptuous buildings in the city, rich in treasures such as the tapestries of the Council Chamber and the frescos dedicated to the Turkish siege that took place in 1565.
Another symbolic place in Valletta that you can easily reach taking advantage of the car rental service at Valletta Airport is the Cathedral of Saint John, founded by the Order of the Knights in 1577: outside it appears austere and simple, but inside it is a true triumph of stuccoes, golden decorations on walls and columns, mosaics and Flemish tapestries.
Under the marble pavement the tombs of the Grandmasters who have succeeded over the time are hidden, while the side chapels are dedicated to all the languages spoken by each knight of Malta. Moreover, the church preserves two extraordinary works by Caravaggio, St Jerome and The Beheading of St John the Baptist.
Among the most beautiful places in Valletta there are the Barakka Gardens, wanted by the Knight of Malta as place of fun, which are divided into two parts: the Lower Gardens, near Fort Saint Elmo, famous for having undergone the Turkish siege for 30 days and also the Italian air bombings during the Second World War, and the Upper Gardens, from where you can enjoy a view as far as the old fishing villages of Isla, Birgu and Bormla.
From this last villages you can admire the Saluting Battery, an artillery consisting in guns that today shoot blanks every day at noon and at 4:00 p.m., making their roar ring out over the roofs of Valletta.
You can choose the car rental service at Valletta – Luqa Airport to reach the surroundings of Valletta and appreciate all the marvels of a small but suggestive island such as Malta.
Excursion in Valletta
Thanks to the car rental service at Valletta Airport, you can reach Hal Saflieni, just 5 km from the city: it is an underground shrine dating back to 3600 BC and to which only 80 people per day can accede, upon reservation. This archaeological site, declared World Heritage by UNESCO, is spread over three levels, the second of which is certainly the most spectacular one; here, indeed, you can visit the Oracle Room, where the voice of a man whispered in a hole echoes throughout the hypogeum, and the Main Room, where The Sleeping Lady, also known as the “Venus of Malta”, was found. Today, the sculpture is preserved in the National Museum of Archaeology in Valletta with other findings coming from Maltese prehistoric and megalithic sites, such as that of Tarxien.
Another unmissable destination is M’Dina, about 13 km from Valletta: the ancient capital of Malta is silent and quiet, almost unreal with its narrow streets dotted with palm trees and prickly pear cactuses, overlooked by noble palaces in Baroque style.
The Norman Palazzo Falson is the most ancient building in the town, with inside a museal space rich in tapestries, ancient clocks and carpets. Moreover, in M’Dina you can admire the Cathedral of St. Paul, among the most ancient ones throughout the island and located where the Apostle Paul converted Publius, Roman governor.
The last gem a few steps from Valletta is the coloured Sunday fish market in Marsaxlokk: the harbour of the town is a true feast for the eyes, with the typical luzzu boats painted blue, yellow and red and with the Eyes of Osiris painted on the bow, as in the past the Greeks and the Phoenicians used to do.