06 April 2018
Famous for its Baroque architecture, world-class restaurants, and thriving art scene; Valletta is perfect for a city-break. The Maltese capital was recently named the sunniest city in Europe and serves as the European Capital of Culture for 2018, which is just another reason to visit this romantic city.
Welcome to Valletta
Valletta is a hotspot for culture enthusiasts; there are ornate palaces, museums and over 365 churches to be explored. Built in the 16th Century by the Knights of St John, Valletta is a masterpiece of the Baroque and a European Art City. Today, Valletta is one of the most concentrated historic areas in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Over the centuries, Valletta has built up a wealth of cultural attractions. Wander through Valletta’s winding streets and discover intriguing buildings, votive statues, majestic gardens and elaborate fountains. The city is renowned for its extravagant Baroque architecture, including buildings like the Auberge de Castille, one of the finest architectural works in Malta. Valletta is a centre of learning, and at the neoclassical-style ‘Bibliotheca’ National Library on Republic Square, you’ll find one of the largest collections of Maltese literature in the country.
Explore Malta’s past
The history of Malta is the result of a 7,000-year relationship with the many civilisations who have occupied the Maltese Islands, including the Phoenicians and the Romans. Head to the National Museum of Archaeology in Republic Street to marvel at artefacts dating from between 5,000 B.C. and 400 B.C. including the Phoenician ‘Horus & Anubis’ pendant. Saint John’s Co-Cathedral, a Baroque masterpiece home to the only signed oil-painting, is regarded as one of the most magnificent cathedrals in the world. Visit the Grand Master’s Palace, which has been the administrative centre of Malta for over three centuries.
A tantalising melting-pot of cultures including the Sicilians, Romans, Spanish and French have influenced the unique blend of Maltese cuisine. Enjoy local delicacies including ‘pastizzi’ – a ricotta cheese-stuffed filo pastry, the national dish ‘kunserva’ – sweetened tomato puree that is best served on Maltese bread, and Maltese rabbit stew called ‘fenek’. Sample fresh Mediterranean cuisine from local cheeses made with sheep’s milk to fresh seafood at Valletta’s outdoor markets which are held every Sunday. For a memorable romantic occasion visit the idyllic Grand Harbour for an evening of alfresco dining on the Mediterranean waterfront.
2018 Cultural Programme
Valletta boasts a range of stunning cultural spaces. Take in operas and music recitals at the Manoel Theatre or visit the Victor Pasmore Gallery to view a collection of the artists’ work. As the European Capital of Culture 2018, Valletta has invested strongly in a diverse cultural programme that will see over 400 events take place throughout the year. Over 1,000 local and international creatives, ranging from artists, artist collectives and curators to performers, workshop leaders, writers, choirs and film-makers will be involved.
Between March and July, the ‘Dal-Baħar Madwarha’ visual arts event will take place, featuring an exhibition curated by the acclaimed Maren Richter showcasing large installations and dramatic performances. This year, attendees can enjoy some must-see operatic works at the Manoel Theatre. With recitals of Mozart's Don Giovanni in March and the performance of Cendrillon, a spell-binding interpretation of Perrault's 'Cinderella', in June. In late April and early May, the ‘Altofest Malta’ takes place in Strait Street – an alternative performing arts festival which promotes multicultural exchanges. If you’re here in April, take in performances from talented global artists at the Electronic Music Malta festival which will be held at St James Cavalier.
The traditional Maltese composition Rulina will be performed at the Vilhena Palace in May, and it’s worth taking part in this interactive experience that places the audience at the heart of the performance. Watch dance showcases in summer across the city, and enjoy a dance party with a light show at St Clare’s College in July. Check out the annual Notte Bianca festival which is held on 6 October - not only will you see music, theatre and film performances, you’ll be able to enter the museums, historical buildings and art galleries of Valletta free of charge. Attend the Malta Book Festival at the Mediterranean Conference Centre this November, and take part in book launches, interviews with authors and literary readings. The programme will culminate with the ‘Closing Spectacle’ on 15 December, where there will be a spectacular celebration in St George’s Square.