Valletta History

St. John's Co-Cathedral

St. John's Co-Cathedral and Museum: link to official websiteValletta was founded in 1566, shortly after the Great Siege, as a fortified city to help ensure that the Knights of St. John should never again have to worry about an Ottoman invasion. More than that, it was to be filled with magnificent architecture as a city befitting the aristocratic Knights.

St. John's Co-Cathedral (co- because there is another cathedral on the island, in Mdina) was built to a simple design with two bell towers. However, the interior is simply stunning with its rich decoration and a towering central nave with a side chapel for each langue of the Order.

The associated museum contains two Carravaggio paintings, the Cathedral silver and Flemish tapestries.

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Grand Master's Palace and Armoury

Grand Master's Palace and Armoury: link to Visit MaltaThe Palace was the official residence of the Grand Master of the Order of the Knight's of St. John. A two-storey building, surrounding two central courts, it was magnificently decorated.

Today it houses two visitor attractions: the Palace State Rooms and the Armoury. The State Rooms are decorated with portraits of the Grand Masters, friezes illustrating Maltese history, tapestries, antique furniture and works of art. The Armoury houses one one of the world's great collections of arms, reflecting the past glories of the Knights of St. John. Both can be visited on a combined ticket.

The Palace also houses the Maltese parliament.

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Grand Harbour

Grand Harbour, MaltaWhen the Knights arrived in Malta in 1530, they were immediately aware of the advantages of the Grand Harbour, one of the world's great natural harbours and decided to make it their base. They fortified the area known as the Cottonera, built the forts of St. Angelo and St. Michael and built palaces and auberges there for the Order.

The view of the Grand Harbour from the Upper Barrakka Gardens in Valletta is truly stunning. Directly in front of you are the Knights' Three Cities: Birgu (Vittoriosa), Isla (Senglea) and Bormla (Cospicua). To the left is the harbour entrance, Fort Ricasoli and the town of Kalkara. To the right are the heights of Corradino and the Maltese shipyards.

National Museum of Archaeology

National Museum of Archaeology lonk to maltabulb.comOf all the many museums in Malta, the National Museum of Archaeology housed in the Auberge de Provence is a must for anyone planning to visit one of the many ancient Maltese temples. The museum contains many of the original artefacts found at the various sites, explains how the temples were built and provides an insight to the lives of the prehistoric people who built them.

More information: National Museum of Archaeology, Museum of Fine Arts, National War Museum, Lascaris War Rooms