FOLLOW US

World Travel Guide > Guides > Europe > Malta > Valletta

Valletta Weather

25°C

Local time Valletta

Currency

Valletta History

With a history that includes sieges, Knights Hospitaller and a Nazi blitzkrieg, the story of Valletta’s past makes for fascinating reading. Born in 1565, following a siege that pitted the Knights Hospitaller (also known as the Knights of St John) against the might of the Ottoman Empire, the city was initially built with defence in mind.

Until the arrival of the Knights, Mount Sceberras, on which Valletta stands, was an arid tongue of land sitting between two harbours. Grand Master La Valette, the hero of the Great Siege, realised that if the Order was to maintain its hold on Malta, it had to provide defences. So he devised a plan for a new fortified city on the peninsula. Riches poured into Malta from European royals, much of which went into constructing the new city, called Valletta in honour of La Valette.

By the 16th century, Valletta had grown into Malta’s largest city, notable for its lavish palaces and graceful churches. Pretty though it was, defence remained the key consideration – and with good reason. In 1798, the French briefly occupied the city following the arrival of Napoleon Bonaparte who established a garrison on the island before leaving for Egypt. The Maltese resisted with the help of the British and two years later, the island became a British protectorate.

The now British island remained of key strategic importance, proving its worth again and again, most famously in 1942 when Valletta took a fearful pounding from a vastly superior force (this time the German Luftwaffe, which destroyed the Royal Opera House). The city held firm, earning the entire island an award for bravery in the process.

During the post-war years, the island achieved self-rule, becoming a constitutional monarchy with Queen Elizabeth II as head of state. It then eventually declared itself a republic. Today, Valletta is the smallest EU capital and Malta’s commercial and financial heart.

Did you know?
• Queen Elizabeth II lived in Valletta for almost two years.
• Valletta is the third capital city of Malta, following Mdina and Victoria.
• Valletta’s Manoel Theatre is one of the oldest in Europe.

Book Accommodation

Featured Hotels

SEE MORE

Castille Hotel

Originally built as a home for the influential De Robertis family at the turn of the 16th century, Captain Giacomo De Robertis, a Bolognese, then passed the building on to the Testaferrata family and later to the Marquis Cassar Desain. The building is now a hotel with a sitting room, reading lounges on all floors and a coffee shop which formerly housed the stables. There are also two restaurants, serving local and global cuisine.

Maison La Vallette

This eccentrically-designed self catering luxury town house is situated in the old part of Valletta and dates back to the Knights of Malta. The house offers a large, air-conditioned bedroom with ensuite facilities, living room and separate kitchen. The decor is a mix of Maltese-style baroque and bespoke designer furniture. This is not your standard accommodation but it's memorable and suitably romantic.

Marco Polo Hostel

Bright, colourful and hipster-cool, this hostel in the heart of St Julian also offers bike hire, free Wi-Fi, and the views from its roof top terraces are glorious.

Hilton Malta

A huge palm-filled atrium, a grand piano in the lounge, a platoon of flunkies, a choice of five excellent restaurants, three bars and 410 bedrooms with every comfort known to man - Brad Pitt liked it so much he offered to buy it, just so that he could extend the bar hours. Located in the prestigious Portomaso waterfront in buzzing st Julian's, this is the place to stay if you want to be close to the heart of the action.

La Falconeria

This 4-star hotel is delightful. The rooms are modern and clean and the service is excellent. The onsite restaurant L’Artiglio serves up superb seasonal dishes. Triq Ir-Repubblika (Republic Street) is just a short walk away and so are attractions like the National Museum of Archaeology.

Hotel Juliani

Hotel Juliani is Malta's first boutique hotel, featuring lots of designer style and an excellent restaurant on the premises. The former seafront townhouse offers 44 rooms offering contemporary Med decor. It's also conveniently located for the nightlife and restaurants of St Julian's, on pretty (albeit very busy) Spinola Bay.