We arrived at Valetta overnight. Valetta is the capital of Malta and has an incredible history mostly tied to the Order of the Knights of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem, also known as the Order of Saint John, Order of Hospitallers, Knights Hospitaller, or Hospitallers. It was a medieval Catholic military order that became the modern founders of Valetta in the 1500s after the island of Malta was given to them as a fiefdom by King Charles I of Spain and Sicily. Malta was taken over as a colony by the British in the 1800s and was given its independence in 1964. English and Maltese are the two official languages of Malta, the latter being a combination of Arabic, Italian and Sicilian.
Because of its strategic location in the center of the Mediterranean Sea, the Knights designed Valetta as an impregnable fortress city built on a series of quarries that served as walls against invading forces. Many of the walls still exist and dominate the city landscape.
During World War II, in order to disrupt shipping by the Allies, Valetta was one of the most heavily bombed cities by the Axis powers.
In addition to Valetta, we visited the three cities of Senglea, Cospicua,and Vittoriosa traveling by a gondola-style boat called a dghajsa.
Our visit here was capped by a visit to the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist that houses two major works by Carravaggio. (The Beheading of St. John the Baptist and St. Jerome Writing, supposedly a self-portrait.) The entire interior (every square inch) of the cathedral is elaborately carved limestone covered in gold.
Very exhilarating day!
Cathedral of St. John the Baptist
The Beheading of St. John the Baptist
St. Jerome Writing (Self-Portrait of Carravaggio)