Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Valetta and the Three Cities

I got the opportunity to visit Malta for the blog of a friend, Chronic Wanderlust, and I really love Malta.
When my plane approached the airport and I had a look out of the window, my first impression was that everything is pretty brown here. Even the buildings seem to be all built out of the same brownish-yellow stone - not only the old buildings but also the new ones.


That is why the skyline of Valetta, seen from the Three Cities, also looks pretty brown. Now you are probably wondering what the Three Cities are. Basically, they are just on the other side of the harbour of Valetta, consisting of Senglea, Vittoriosa and Cospicua, located on several seperate peninsulas with smaller harbours inbetween them.



When the Turks tried to take Malta in the great siege of Malta in 1565, Valetta did not exist yet, but the Three Cities were Forts to defend the Island. After the siege was won, Valetta was planned and built and became the capital city.

 
Therefore the Three Cities conserve a lot of culture, which can be seen when driving around there. There are Villages that used to be prisons, gates that used to keep people out just somewhere along the street, and really beautiful alleys in the old town. The harbours inbetween are quite cute and furthermore a perfect spot to watch the sunset, especially when the weather is fine.



Valetta, on the other side, would be pretty perfect for watching the sunrise. Unfortunately, sunrise just comes to soon every day so I will probably miss it. But still, there are other nice places to see in Valetta. Like the parliament, next to the open air theater that used to be a opera before it was destroyed in the second world war. Also, along the main pedestrian street, there are lots of museums, beautiful buildings, a palace and the cathedral.



The cathedral is quite stunning because it is so full of decoration you have a hard time actually looking at it. For some reason they thought it is really important to put gold almost everywhere.



But also there are some signs that show that Malta was a british colony, like the phone boxes. Also, they are driving on the left, using the same sockets as the british and grow up learning both english and maltese. I must confress, I did not know they even had their own language there until some months ago. The language sounds a lot like arabic, which is because the phoenicians were the first people in Malta long ago and the language mixed with arabic about 1000 years ago. Of course they also have french, italian and english influences, but still, the sound stayed mostly the same.


There are also different viewpoints all around the peninsula of Valetta. The best viewpoints I discovered were the Hastings Gardens on the northwest, the Fort St. Elmo on the top and the Barrakka Gardens.


I especially liked the Upper Barrakka Garden, because it gives you like the perfect view and the atmosphere is relaxing and you can sit there for hours and watch ships entering and leaving the harbour. Also, I especially like viewpoints and the further up they are the better. It is not only nice to watch on a sunny day but also at night, because of the warm nights and the beautiful lights.