Thanks to its 320 monuments, concentrated in an area of only 55 hectares, Valletta is one of the areas with the highest concentration of historic buildings in the world. The entire historic city has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. On this page we will give you a picture of Valletta tourist attractions.
Valletta is first and foremost a fortified city, defending the natural harbor of Grand Harbor. The fortifications of the Maltese capital were built between 1566 and 1571 by the Italian Francesco Laparelli da Cortona and his Maltese assistant Gerolamo Cassar. They built an impressive series of fortifications.
On the ground side there are four bastions to which a deep moat is added. Two other bastions are located inside and protect the main access gate to the fortified city, originally the Royal Gate, now enlarged for modern needs, and called City Gate.
The whole peninsula where Valletta stands is fortified by walls and ramparts. There are three entrances to the citadel: the aforementioned City Gate, the Victoria Gate and the Jew’s Gate. At the end of the peninsula is the majestic Fort Sant’Elmo. A star-shaped fortification overlooking the entrance to the Grand Harbor and which today partly houses the National War Museum.
THE CENTER OF LA VALLETTA
The main street of Valletta is Republic Street, which runs through the city from City Gate to Fort Sant’Elmo, passing through the squares of Great Siege Square, Republic Square and Palace Square, which represent the center of the city. Here are some of the tourist attractions of Valletta.
Along the Republic Street is the interesting Auberge de Provence, a Renaissance-style building built by Gerolamo Cassar between 1571 and 1576. This building now houses the National Archaeological Museum of Malta, which houses the finds of the Maltese megalithic temples and numerous Roman, Phoenician and Punic objects.
Not far from Republic Street, towards the Victoria Gate and the Upper Baracca gardens is the Auberge de Castille, Léon et Portugal. A sixteenth century building, but restored in baroque form by Domenico Cachia with a rich portal surmounted by a bust of the Grand Master and flanked by columns and cannons.
Between the Auberge de Provence and Republic Square is St. John’s Co-Cathedral, the main church of Valletta, built between 1573 and 1577 by Gerolamo Cassar. The church has a rectangular plan and a very simple Renaissance facade, which contrasts with the very rich interior.
The floor of the church is made of marble plaques with the coats of arms and the names of the knights of St. John. While the ceiling is full of 17th century frescoes, the work of Mattia Preti. The altar is a profusion of marble and lapis lazuli, on the two major side walls are the chapels of the languages of the order, which are also beautifully decorated. Finally, the crypt of the church contains the tombs of twelve Great Masters. Adjacent to the church is the Cathedral Museum, which houses The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist, a masterpiece by Caravaggio, the Saint Jerome Writing, also by Caravaggio, and some works by Mattia Preti.
THE PALACE OF THE GRAND MASTER
In Republic Square is the Grand Master’s Palace, a 16th century building by Gerolamo Cassar, now the seat of the President of the Republic. Inside you can visit the State Rooms with the Council Chambre, the Hall of the Supreme Council, the Ambassador’s Room, the Yellow Room, and finally the Armory, where more than five thousand armor of the knights of the Order of Malta are exhibited. Always in the historical center, if you want to admire a noble residence in Valletta, the place to visit is the Palace-museum Casa Rocca Piccola.
Another prestigious building in Valletta is that of the Hospital of the Order or Sacra Infermeria (Holy Infirmary). Rebuilt after the damage suffered during the Second World War and a subsequent fire. Not far from the Sacra Infermeria are the Lower Baracca gardens, a series of gardens with beautiful views over the Grand Harbor. For other beautiful views of the bay, the Upper Baracca gardens are also worth a visit, while from the Hastings Garden you have views of the suburb of Floriana.
Among the most interesting museums in Valletta there is the National Museum of Fine Arts, located in an 18th century building, paintings of Italian art are exhibited including works by Guido Reni and Tintoretto.