An island country in the middle of the Mediterranean, between Sicily and the northern African coast, Malta has a rich history that dates back 7,000 years. Its ancient temples tell of the ruling powers of yesterday, from the Phoenicians to the Knights of the Order of St. John to the British. The island gained its independence in 1964 and is now one of the world’s smallest, most densely populated nations. Thanks to Malta’s historical and architectural monuments, recreational areas, and pleasant climate, it’s becoming a hot tourist destination to fly to in a private jet throughout the year.
Must-See Sites in Malta
Malta and its sister island Gozo are home to seven megalith temples: Ġgantija, Ħaġar Qim, Mnajdra, Skorba, Ta’ Ħaġrat, and Tarxien. The prehistoric monumental buildings were constructed as early as the 4th millennium BC, making them some of the earliest free-standing stone structures in the history of the humankind. Each monument is different and a testament to the remarkable technological, artistic and architectural achievements of the times in which they were constructed. The megalith temples are not only noteworthy because of their size, complexity, and originality, but also because of the impressive technical skills required to construct them.
Mdina and Rabat
Before Valetta served as the capital city, Mdina was at the center of Malta’s action. The old capital city dates back 4,000 years. According to tradition, Paul, an apostle from the Bible, lived in Mdina around 60 A.D. after being shipwrecked. He resided outside the city walls in a grotto in Rabat, which is filled with archaeological relics.
Today, the cobbled streets of Mdina, “the quiet city,” are illuminated by lamps at night, giving it a timeless vibe. Homes and palaces that line the labyrinthine streets belong to noble families, some of whom descend from overlords who arrived as early as the 12th century. Start your tour of the baroque and medieval architecture at the main gate and follow Villegaignon Street to Bastion Square, just past the cathedral. The square offers panoramic views of the city.
The ultimate in azure waters, Blue Lagoon on the uninhabited island of Comino is in a sheltered bay regularly seen in films. The natural inlet is one of the best sites in the Mediterranean for snorkeling (even in the shallow areas), diving and swimming thanks to the lack of silt and sand muddying the languid waters. Take a day trip to the Blue Lagoon by chartering a boat from Malta or Gozo.
Malta’s capital city, Valletta is like an open-air museum. After a near-loss to the Ottoman Turks during the Great Siege of 1565, the Knights of St. John built the “Fortress City” using impressive architectural techniques that made the fortifications nearly impregnable. The Baroque masterpiece has 320 monuments within its 55 hectares, making it one of the most concentrated historic areas in the world. Take the Valletta fortifications walk, a circuit that runs along the edge of the city, mostly on top of the walls. The circular walk looks down on the two harbors that flank Valletta, giving you unobstructed views. Get a different vantage point and explore the Fortress City along the outside of its walls.