Malta, formerly known as Melita by the Greeks due to the presence of numerous beehives on this island, is a spectacular land not only in terms of its natural beauty but also its historical significance. It is the island of the Knights of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, as well as home to prehistoric sites declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Its capital, Valletta, encapsulates the essence of Malta and its myriad facets.
La Valletta airport
La Valletta Airport is located in Luqa, just 5 km from the center of Malta’s capital, and it is the only airport on the entire island. Despite being a small airport, it is equipped with all the services useful for travelers, including baggage storage, tourist office, duty-free shops, dining options, Wi-Fi, and the La Valletta Lounge.
The best way to discover the beauty of Malta’s capital and its surroundings is to take advantage of the car rental service at La Valletta Airport. To reach the center of La Valletta from the airport by car, simply follow Road 6, and you will reach your destination in just 20 minutes.
La Valletta: places of interesst
Walter Scott described Valletta as “a city built by gentlemen for gentlemen,” and indeed it is an elegant city surrounded by walls. Despite its small size, it encapsulates a true treasure born out of 3000 years of history.
It was founded by Jean Parisot de la Vallette, renowned for being the Grand Master of the Order of St. John, whose armor is now preserved in the Armory of the Grand Master’s Palace, along with other armors of the Knights of Malta and weapons such as crossbows, muskets, and swords dating back to the period between the 16th and 17th centuries.
The Grandmaster’s Palace, located in St. George’s Square, is one of the most magnificent buildings in the city, rich in treasures such as the tapestries in the Council Chamber and the affreschi depicting the Turkish siege of 1565.
Another iconic place in Valletta that can be easily reached by renting a car from La Valletta Airport is St. John’s Cathedral, founded by the Order of the Knights in 1577: while the exterior may appear austere and simple, the interior is a true celebration of stucco work, golden decorations on walls and columns, mosaics, and Flemish tapestries.
Beneath the marble floor lie the tombs of the Grand Masters who have played a significant role in history, while the side chapels are dedicated to the languages spoken by each Knight of Malta. The church also houses two extraordinary works by Caravaggio, The church also houses two extraordinary works by Caravaggio, San Gerolamo and La Decollazione di San Giovanni Battista.
Tra i luoghi più belli di La Valletta ci sono i Barakka Gardens, anch’essi voluti dai Cavalieri di Malta come luogo di svago, che si dividono in due parti: i Lower Gradens, vicino a Fort Saint Elmo, noto per aver subito l’assedio turco per trenta giorni ma anche i bombardamenti aerei italiani nel corso della Seconda Guerra Mondiale, e gli Upper Gardens dai quali la vista spazia fino agli antichi borghi di pescatori di Senglea, Vittoriosa e Cospicua.
From these gardens, one can observe the Saluting Battery, an artillery installation consisting of cannons that fire blanks every day at noon and precisely at 4 p.m., resonating their thunderous boom across the rooftops of Valletta.
To explore the surroundings of Valletta and appreciate all the wonders of this small yet enchanting island like Malta, one can opt for the car rental service at La Valletta – Luqa Airport.
Hiking in La Valletta
Thanks to car rental at Malta International Airport, you can reach Hal Saflieni, just 5km from the city of Valletta. It is an underground sanctuary dating back to 3600 BC and can only be accessed by 80 people per day, by prior reservation. This archaeological site, declared a UNESCO World Heritage site, spans three levels, with the second level being the most spectacular. Here, you can visit the Oracle Chamber, where the whispered voice of a man resonates throughout the hypogeum, and the Main Chamber, where the Sleeping Lady, also known as the “Venus of Malta,” was discovered. The sculpture is now housed in the National Archaeological Museum of Valletta, along with other artifacts from prehistoric and megalithic sites in Malta, such as the one in Tarxien.
Another must-visit location is Mdina, located approximately 13km from Valletta. The ancient capital of Malta appears silent and quiet, almost surreal, with its narrow streets adorned with palm trees and prickly pears, and noble palaces in Baroque style overlooking them.
The Norman Palazzo Falson is the oldest building in the town, housing a museum space rich in tapestries, antique clocks, and carpets. In Mdina, there is also the Cathedral of St. Paul, one of the oldest on the island, located where the apostle Paul converted Publius, the Roman governor.
A delightful gem just a stone’s throw away from Valletta is the colorful Sunday fish market in Marsaxlokk. The harbor of this town is a true feast for the eyes, with its typical luzzu boats painted in blue, yellow, and red, adorned with the Eye of Osiris design on the bow, just as the Greeks and Phoenicians used to do in the past.