My husband and I visited Malta on a Mediterranean Cruise back in 2019, just prior to the pandemic. It was a 12-night cruise and we visited a lot of ports. We enjoyed every port that we visited, but one of them stood out to me as a destination I definitely want to go back to: Malta.
Malta is an archipelago in the Mediterranean, just south of Sicily. It consists of three islands: Malta, Gozo, and Comino. It is rich with 7,000 years of history and archaeological sites. Its enviable location in the Mediterranean made it worth fighting over. Throughout its history, it has been held by Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, and the Order of the Knights of St. John. Malta is home to three UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
I was fascinated by Malta, and there wasn’t enough time to see everything I wanted to see. I think many of my clients would find it as captivating as I did and I’d love to tell you and show you why.
1. The Colors
The first thing I noticed as our ship approached Malta was the golden limestone. It’s everywhere from the rocky shore to the buildings.
Later in the day, while we were driving through the countryside, I noticed the many stone walls.
I noticed that many of the stone fences had cactus plants growing on or near them.
The second thing that caught my eye in Malta was the brightly colored doors and closed wooden balconies. I later found out that the closed-in balconies are called gallarija. And what makes them stand out is that they are each painted a different color or at least a different shade. I noticed that blues and greens were especially popular.
Later on, when we drove past the town of Marsaxlokk, we saw the brightly colored fishing boats, called luzzu. I think it was at that moment that I knew that I have to go back to Malta again to spend more time exploring this fascinating country.
2. The City of Valletta
Valletta, the capital city of Malta, dates back to 1566. I was struck by how beautiful it was.
Additionally, with over 300 monuments packed into 0.3 square miles, Valletta holds the distinction of being the most concentrated historic area in the world. That earned Valletta a designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
3. Megalithic Temples
There are seven megalithic temples on the islands of Malta and Gozo, and together they comprise a UNESCO World Heritage Site. They are some of the oldest religious sites on Earth. My husband and I visited three of them: Ħaġar Qim, Mnajdra, and Tarxien. These temples date back to around 3000 BC. When you consider the limited resources available then, the construction is amazing.
4. Christian Heritage Sites
The Apostle Paul was shipwrecked on Malta and stayed in the town of Rabat. Rabat is home to a network of ancient catacombs that were used as graves by the Romans. Early Christians worshipped secretly in the catacombs to avoid persecution. We didn’t have enough time to visit Rabat, but it will be a must-see on my next trip.
Over 95% of the population of Malta is Christian, with most of those being Roman Catholic. You’ll also find many beautiful churches and cathedrals in Malta. This is St. John’s Co-Cathedral in Valletta.
5. The Art
My husband and I took a drawing class while we were on our cruise. Our teacher taught us about the technique of chiaroscura, the use of strong contrasts between light and dark. Before we arrived in Malta, he told us that we HAD to go see Caravaggio’s paintings in Malta. Two of Caravaggio’s most important paintings are displayed in St. John’s Co-Cathedral in Valletta. Here is The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist.
The other painting is Saint Jerome Writing.
Of course, there’s lots more art in Malta. We didn’t get a chance to explore the MUŻA art museum. I’d also love to see the ancient art at the National Museum of Archaeology.
6. The Water
Malta is an island nation, so you’ll find plenty of water sports. Much of the coastline is rocky, but there are some sandy beaches. And the water is a gorgeous turquoise color. The scuba diving is among the best in Europe, especially for divers who like wrecks and caves. Whether it’s just for a couple of hours, or an all-day trip, sailing is an excellent way to view Malta’s rugged coast.
Are you interested in visiting Malta either as a standalone destination or as part of a cruise? Check out this page of my website to find out how my services work. Most cruise vacations will fall into my Opal plan which starts at $250 per household. A customized land itinerary falls into my Diamond plan which starts at $500 per household. Both of these include a really cool app for your phone. Contact me if you’d like to set up a consultation.