Fortified Cities of Malta

Malta is a tiny little island, nevertheless it has too many fortifications! We decided to see some of those fortified cities and towns.

Valletta: Valletta was the first site that we headed to, in Malta, for the very reason, that its not only the capital city but also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city was found in 1566 by Knights of St.John and its Grand Master was Jean Parisot de la Valette. The city was planned and built with the best of Renaissance style with a grid plan and fortress! 

It was just a ferry-ride away from where we stayed. As soon as we reached Valletta's ferry drop-off point, we walked along the sea, outside the fortification wall. Its a wee-bit long walk, but the views of the sea is just spectacular. At some places you could get down into the sea. We went into the fortification near The Malta Experience and our first stop was at the Knight's Hospitallers which was the infirmary before the Siege of Malta which was the prime reason for the fortification to be built. 

There are an abundance of churches here but the most important would be St.John's Co-Cathedral and then there are several museums here but the most important would be National Archaeological Museum, which holds all the precious find of Hal Safleni Hypogeum and Megalithic Temples. At the tip of the island, is the Fort St.Elmo which houses the National War Museum. One of the most, often missed, but 'hiding in plain sight' place is the Sundial, at St.George's Square. Don't miss it!

Three Cities (Birgu/Vittoriosa, Senglea/Isla and Cospicua/Bormla): A local informed us specifically, that its better to head to 3 cities in late evening, when the place is all for yourself without the crowds of tourists, though it may mean missing out on actually entering the museums & monuments. That's exactly what we did, as we were staying in the heart of 3 Cities.

We walked one evening till Fort St.Ange, at the tip of Birgu. It closes by 6 PM, however our idea was to just walk around the peninsulas. It was much different than the walk at Valletta. Here, you can see the richness of Malta with the sheer number of luxury yachts!!! 
Kalkara: Facing Valletta are 3 tips - Birgu and Sanglea and Kalkara. Kalkara's tip has Fort Ricasoli which is in a bit dilapidated state and is not open to visitors, but guess what it was? Its was the Red Keep in Game of Thrones!!!

Mdina & Rabat: Mdina is splendid. It's called the Silent City, because no vehicles are allowed in here. The whole city is frozen in time, a few centuries ago! Mdina was perhaps the place I liked the most of all the cities. And as a Game of Thrones fan, this is one of the prime filming locations of early seasons!!! One of the most important locations within Mdina is St.Paul's Cathedral. Beside it is its museum, which should also be not missed! Close to it is the Domus Romana. 

Rabat is the town next to Mdina. The only reason we headed to Rabat was for St.Paul's Catacombs. It has a museum that gives all information and then the actual catacombs are in the open area. It has a total of 23 Catacombs of which only few are open for visitors. A catacomb is a communal burial located outside of city fort. 

It was probably been in existence since Roman Era and has been in use till 7th C CE. This is perhaps the most fascinating thing in the whole of Mdina & Rabat. Some of the underground chambers even have frescoes, wall art etc. This was a 2000yr newer version of Hal Safleni Hypogeum!

To Get There:
Being a tiny country whole of Malta is served by 1 airport - Malta International Airport - MTA. The national airlines is AirMalta and the airport also serves a few other airlines. The best way to reach Malta from India would be a combination of the 2 national careers, Air Malta and Air India Express booking it ideally 3 months earlier for the best prices. 

Within Malta: By Public Transport: Read the 'tips for travel in Malta' section in the next post.

Official Valletta Guide Map (downloads/opens as PDF)

Bhushavali

An ardent traveler by passion. I am a wanderlust.. Read more about me here.

18 comments:

  1. When I think of Malta is usually of the pristine beaches, not the rustic, historic forts scattered across the island. These forts and immense and so beautiful in their own stoic way. I also didn't know that Malta was a filming location for the Game of Thrones -- now I want to go there even more! It looks like it worked out visiting the forts in the late evening, it definitely looks like you had the entire place to yourselves.

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  2. Malta is a place of history and culture. this place is amazing to visit. I love reading your article. thanks for sharing.

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  3. Very cool topic. I love exploring these old fortification sites in Europe. I recently explored a few sites in Italy and Luxembourg. I love learning about the history and why they were built. It's fun to imagine what life might have been like back when they were being built.

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  4. Jane Dempster-SmithJune 30, 2019 at 12:11 PM

    We loved Malta when we visited many years ago especially Mdina. Your article brought back some great memories. We loved wandering down the many streets and exploring the small alleyways. Our boys loved it then and they were only saying the other day that they would love to return. Maybe we can get a chance to visit more churches this time with them.

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  5. Malta has my heart. I wish I could go explore this place myself. The pictures of the pretty roads and the vintage buildings are just to lucrative that I would spend days clicking photos everywhere. And till now I had only associated Croatia with Game of Thrones, didn't know that it was shot in Malta too.

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  6. I always love reading your articles rich in history. I have heard of Valletta so many times and I had it right on the top of my bucketlist for Malta. But I had never heard of the others. I would love to visit Mdina and Rabat. Rabat especially for the catacombs.

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  7. Malta is one of the countries I really want to visit in my life. Valletta, the capital city, looks so amazing! Apart from being a UNESCO Heritage site, it looks like a big open museum for me! Being a big Game of Thrones fan, I really want to see Fort Ricasoli as it is the Red Keep!

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  8. I went to Rabat, but I had no idea there are catacombs. Such a shame. I went there only because of the train connection problem, I had to stay for one night, but thought there is nothing to see. :/

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  9. Malta looks absolutely gorgeous! I've definitely added it too my list to visit.

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  10. Usually, the first thing that comes into my mind when Malta is mentioned in the conversation are the beautiful beaches and it's great that you showcased some of the other fascinating sights of this beautiful country. I never visited but this post sure gave me a new perception of Malta. Thank you for sharing :)

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  11. Reminds me a bit of Croatia, although I don't believe Croatia is as fortified. I think some drone shots would really give a unique perspective to the city and it's numerous walls for it's small size.

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  12. I have had the opportunity to visit this magnificent island county and couldn’t agree more than it’s a place filled with historic and cultural delights. Valetta is absolutely mesmerising with its sandy architecture and the bright coloured balconies and doors that stand out. We travelled in April and was less crowded as I think can get quite crowded during the peak travel season. We did visit Rabat but again only for the catacombs and was a great trip. There is so much to see and do in Malta overall from Historic buildings of Valetta to the blue grotto and St Julian nightlife. This post brought back loads of memories. Thanks.

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  13. Not just because it's the shooting location of GoT, but Malta's architectures caught my attention since the first time I learned about it. It looks unique and seems like the whole country looks like a sand castle. I wonder how big is the Mdina since no vehicles are allowed there. Must be fascinating to just wander around Mdina.

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  14. I visited Malta couple of years back and its such a gem - I never thought I would like it so much. I have never heard of three cities altough I traveled there for 9 days. Did you manage to see Azzure window? Such a shame its gone.

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  15. All these streets in Malta are just beautiful! I defs wouldn't mind getting lost there. The museums in Valletta sound super interesting and how cool that there are so many yachts in Birgu. Do you reckon the locals rent them to tourists for boating adventures? I'd totally be down to try that!

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  16. Hahahha :) Ok. Malta is also something else. In Russia, we know it as a place where people go to learn English, and end up party instead of learning English. But actually there is architecture... forts and stuff....

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  17. Malta is a place of history, In India we have Rajasthan like this, thought there are some huge differences in architecture and culture. Here you pictured those amazing churches and forts and yes those silence roads very nicely . I hope to visit this place someday and match the things with your piece of work.

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  18. I love such cities and therefore Malta really looks beautiful to me. Valleta built in renaissance style is really impressive. Good to know that Mdina & Rabat is silent city and it is really splendid.

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