Amazing Things to Do in Valletta, Malta
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Spend a few days here to discover our top things to do in Valletta
As the capital and largest city of Malta, Valletta is often the first stop for visitors to the small Mediterranean island nation. Although Malta has been inhabited since the Neolithic Age, Valletta is a relatively young capital. It was founded in 1566 by Jean de Valette, Grand Master of the Order of Saint John, also known as the Knights of Malta. Although Valette died before its completion, her namesake city became a model of European Baroque architecture: most of the buildings in the old town date from this period.
Today Valletta, in addition to serving as the center of Malta, is a living city offering a mix of historical sites, sights, museums, nightlife and other diversions.
Gild-Out at the São João Cathedral
St. John's Co-Cathedral may look simple on the outside, but its interior is an impressive display of high Baroque style. Its naive and numerous central chapels are covered in gilded plaster and frescoes and filled with symbols that refer to the history of the Knights of Malta and their close ties to the Catholic Church. The ground is covered with graves of hundreds of Knights of Malta: Jean de Valette rests in a stone crypt with the bronze image of him on top. Of note is a side chapel with Caravaggio's "The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist", a huge canvas that dramatically illustrates the famous moment in Scripture.
Relax in the three cities
When you're ready for a break from the busy center of Valletta, cross the Grand Harbor and explore the area known as The Three Cities, the cities of Vittoriosa, Senglea and Cospicua. As well as offering great views of Valletta, the Three Cities contain historic bastions, churches and palaces, charming places to stroll along the sea, and the opportunity to stroll through cobbled residential neighborhoods.
Hop in a Dgħajsa
If you decide to visit the Grand Harbor, be sure to arrive in style, aboard a colorful dgħajsa rowboat. Like the Venetian gondolas, these brightly painted boats serve as water taxis for passengers and tourists and cost just € 2 each way. Although tradition says that dgħajsa boats are paddle-powered, most ships today are equipped with outboard motors. Still, they are a fun and fast way to get around the picturesque harbor.
Photograph the baroque city center
Europe's smallest capital, downtown Valletta, is less than a quarter square mile, laid out in an orderly grid. It is full of baroque-style palaces, government buildings, and common houses, some of them in various states of decay. It is also incredibly photogenic. Put your photography skills to the test by strolling through the old town and taking pictures of the old doors, knobs, arches, and balconies that make up the historic center.
Ride the Barrakka elevators
You can of course walk to the Grand Harbor or take the steep climb from the harbor to the old town. But it's so much more fun to ride the Barrakka elevators, two elevators that make the 190-foot trip to and from the boardwalk uptown in just 25 seconds. The current elevators opened in 2012, replacing an old elevator that had been out of service since 1973. The elevators seat 21 people and can fill up during morning and evening rush hours. A round trip ticket costs 1 euro.
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