Top Ten Maltese Attractions

Top Ten Maltese Attractions

       Malta is a Southern European country consisting of an archipelago situated in the center of the Mediterranean, 93 km (58 mi) south of Sicily and 288 km (179 mi) east of Tunisia, with the Strait of Gibraltar 1,826 km (1,135 mi) to the west and Alexandria 1,510 km (940 mi) to the east. Malta covers just over 300 square km (120 sq mi) in land area, making it one of the world’s smallest and most densely populated countries. Its de facto capital is Valletta and the largest town is Birkirkara. The main island is made up of many small towns, which together form one Larger Urban Zone (LUZ) with a population of 368,250 (majority of the population of the country) according to Eurostat. The country has two official languages, Maltese and English, with Maltese being considered the national language. Throughout history, Malta’s location has given it great strategic importance, and a sequence of powers including the Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Normans, Sicilians, Knights of St John, French and the British ruled the islands. Malta gained independence from the UK in 1964 and became a republic in 1974, whilst retaining membership in the Commonwealth of Nations. Malta has a long Christian legacy and is an Apostolic See. According to the Acts of the Apostles in the Bible, St. Paul was shipwrecked on “Melite,” as the Greeks called the island, and ministered there. Catholicism is the official religion in Malta as declared by the Maltese constitution. Malta is internationally renowned as a tourist resort, with numerous recreational areas and historical monuments, including the Megalithic Temples which are some of the oldest free-standing structures in the world.

  1. Valletta

    Valletta is the capital of Malta, colloquially known as Il-Belt in Maltese. It is located in the central-eastern portion of the island of Malta and the historical city has a population of 6,098. The name “Valletta” is traditionally reserved for the historic walled citadel that serves as Malta’s principal administrative district. However, Valletta, like many historical city centers, forms part of a larger continuous urban agglomeration; this is often referred to as “Greater Valletta.” According to Eurostat, (Greater) Valletta has a population of 368,250 at the city level. Valletta contains buildings from the 16th century onwards, built during the rule of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, also known as Knights Hospitaller. The city is essentially Baroque in character, with elements of Mannerist, Neo-Classical and Modern architecture in selected areas, though WWII left major scars on the city. The city is named for Jean Parisot de la Valette, who succeeded in defending the island from an Ottoman invasion in 1565. The official name given by the Order of Saint John was Humilissima Civitas Valletta, The Most Humble City of Valletta, or Città Umilissima in Italian. The bastions, curtains and ravelins along with the beauty of its Baroque palaces, gardens and churches, led the ruling houses of Europe to give the city its nickname Superbissima, ‘Most Proud.’
    Links: Cities, Top Ten Cathedrals, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valletta,
  2. Rotunda of Mosta

           The Church of the Assumption of Our Lady, commonly known as the Rotunda of Mosta or Rotunda of St Marija Assunta (sometimes shortened to as The Mosta Dome) is a Roman Catholic church in Mosta, Malta. It is the third largest unsupported dome in the world. Built in the 19th century on the site of a previous church, it was designed by the Maltese architect Giorgio Grognet de Vassé. Its dome is among the largest in the world, with an internal diameter of 37.2 m (122 ft). The rotunda walls are nearly 9.1 m (30 ft) thick. The rotunda dome is the 3rd largest church dome in Europe and the 9th largest in the world. Grongnet’s plans were based on the Pantheon in Rome. Construction began in May 1833 and was completed in the 1860’s. The original church was left in place while the Rotunda was built around it, allowing the local people to have a place of worship while the new church was being built. The church was officially consecrated on October 15, 1871.
    Links: Top Ten Domes, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rotunda_of_Mosta,
  3. Hypogeum of Ħal-Saflieni

    The Hypogeum of Paola, Malta, literally meaning “underground” in Greek, is a subterranean structure dating to the Saflieni phase in Maltese prehistory. Thought to be originally a sanctuary, it became a necropolis in prehistoric times. It is the only prehistoric underground temple in the world. The Hypogeum was depicted on a 2 cents 5 mils stamp issued in the Maltese Islands in 1980. It was closed to visitors between 1992 and 1996 for restoration works; since it reopened only 80 people per day are allowed entry and there can be a 2–3 weeks wait to get a ticket. It was discovered by accident in 1902 when workers cutting cisterns for a new housing development broke through its roof. The workers tried to hide the temple at first, but eventually it was found. The study of the structure was first entrusted to Father Manuel Magri of the Society of Jesus, who directed the excavations on behalf of the Museums Committee. Magri died in 1907, before the publication of the report. Following Magri’s sudden death, excavation resumed under Sir Temi Zammit.
    Links: Temples, Top Ten Necropolises, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypogeum_of_%C4%A6al-Saflieni,
  4. Ħaġar Qim (in Qrendi)

    Ħaġar Qim, “Standing/Worshiping Stones,” is a megalithic temple complex found on the Mediterranean island of Malta, dating from the Ġgantija phase (3600-3200 BC). The Megalithic Temples of Malta are amongst the most ancient religious sites on Earth, described by the World Heritage Sites committee as “unique architectural masterpieces.” Vere Gordon Childe, Professor of Prehistoric European Archeology and director of the Institute of Archaeology in the University of London from 1946-1957 visited Ħaġar Qim. His observation was: “I have been visiting the prehistoric ruins all round the Mediterranean, from Mesopotamia to Egypt, Greece and Switzerland, but I have nowhere seen a place as old as this one.” Ħaġar Qim’s builders used globigerina limestone in the temple’s construction. As a result of this, the temple has suffered from severe weathering and surface flaking over the millennia. In 2009 work was completed on a protective tent.
    Links: Temples, Top Ten Venus Figurines, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C4%A6a%C4%A1ar_Qim,
  5. Ġgantija (in Xagħra, Gozo)

    Ġgantija, “Giants’ Tower,” is a Neolithic, megalithic temple complex on the Mediterranean island of Gozo. The Ġgantija temples are the earliest of a series of megalithic temples in Malta. Their makers erected the two Ġgantija temples during the Neolithic Age (3600-2500 BC), which makes these temples more than 5,500 years old and some of the world’s oldest manmade religious structures. The temples were possibly the site of a Fertility cult; archeologists believe that the numerous figurines and statues found on site are connected with that cult. According to local Gozitan folklore, a giantess built these temples and used them as places of worship.
    Links: Temples, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C4%A0gantija,
  6. Birkirkara

    Birkirkara or B’Kara is a city of 25,858 inhabitants (2010) in central Malta. It is the most populated town on the island and consists of four autonomous parishes: St Helen, St Joseph, Our Lady of Mount Carmel and St Mary. It also houses one of the most famous colleges in Malta, St Aloysius’ College. Birkirkara is the home town of Ex-President Edward Fenech Adami and former Opposition Leader Alfred Sant and also the birth place of the first president of Malta Anthony Mamo. The city’s motto is “In hoc signo vinces,” and its coat of arms is a plain red cross, surmounted by a crown.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Birkirkara,
  7. Mnajdra (in Qrendi)

    Mnajdra is a megalithic temple complex found on the southern coast of the Mediterranean island of Malta. Mnajdra is approximately 500 m from the Ħaġar Qim megalithic complex. Mnajdra, which was built around the 4th millennium BC, is amongst the most ancient religious sites on Earth. In 2009 work was completed on a protective tent.
    Links: Temples, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mnajdra,
  8. Tarxien Temples (in Tarxien)

    The Tarxien Temples are an archaeological complex in Tarxien, Malta. They date back to approximately 2800 BC.
    Links: Temples, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tarxien_Temples,
  9. Ta’Hagrat Temples (in Mġarr)

    The Ta’ Ħaġrat temple in Mġarr, Malta is amongst the most ancient religious sites on Earth. The larger Ta’ Ħaġrat temple dates from the Ġgantija phase (3600–3200 BC), while the smaller one is dated to the Saflieni phase (3300–3000 BC).
    Links: Temples, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ta%27Hagrat_Temples,
  10. Skorba Temples (in Żebbiegħ)

    The Skorba temples are megalithic remains on the northern edge of Żebbiegħ, in Malta, which have provided detailed and informative insight into the earliest periods of Malta’s Neolithic culture. The site was only excavated in the early 60’s, rather late in comparison to other megalithic sites, some of which had been studied since the early 19th century. This later excavation allowed the use of modern methods of dating and analysis. The temple itself is not in good condition, especially in comparison to the more complete temples of Ħaġar Qim and Tarxien. However, the importance of this site does not lie in the actual remains but rather in what was garnered from their excavation.
    Links: Temples, Artifacts, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skorba_Temples,
  11. Links: Top Ten Maltese Hotels, Top Ten Maltese Restaurants, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malta,

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