The island in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea is fascinating and full of history. Malta was ruled for nearly 300 years by one of the most powerful religious order in the history of Christianity, the Knights of Malta or the Knights of St. John, as they are known all over the world
We arrived in Malta with one of the oldest travel agencies in Romania, Malta Travel, and we stayed at Grand Hotel Excelsior in Valletta. The hotel is a luxury one with spacious rooms, well equipped and very clean, the food is tasty and varied and the landscape during breakfast, lunch and dinner is amazing. The hotel has a very generous pool and an artificial beach for the sand lovers. One of the most important advantages is the location of the hotel: next to the historic center of Malta’s capital . I also must say that at the Grand Hotel Excelsior we found the best burgers I ever tasted. Too bad I didn’t took a picture of it.
After we checked in we took a walk through Valletta and I was impressed by the old city with ivory buildings. The historic area is full of life and filled with people. Here you can find restaurants where you can find local delights and refreshments of all kind and souvenir shops. All restaurants and shops remain open till 19:00 pm, therefore those who want to party all night long in clubs, pubs and restaurants have to go to St. Julians, a small town close to Valletta.
One of the most beautiful place in Valletta is St. John’s Co- Cathedral. The outside is simple, like any other Maltese building, but the interior is a baroque masterpiece. High arches, marble sculptures, silver chandeliers, splendid frescoes and icons. The Knights of Malta have turned it into one of the most visited cathedrals in the world. Also the Co – Cathedral is famous for the painting Beheading of Saint John, the Baptist by Caravaggio, seems like this is the only painting that was signed by the artist himself.
Near the Co- Cathedral of Saint John is the Grand Masters Palace. In the past the ground floor was used for servants and stables, while the first floor was the home of the Grand Master himself. Currently the Grand Masters Palace is the Parliament of Malta.
My favorite place in Valletta is the Barakka Gardens. The amazing vegetation, the bronze statues, the high columns and the 180 degrees panorama of the largest natural harbor in the Mediterranean Sea fascinated me. You have to be there at 12.00 because that’s the moment when the Maltese Army start the canons in memory of the victims of World War II. Next to the gardens is the Maltese Government, another beautiful building.
The first trip we did was to Popeye ‘s village. The village was built in 1980 by Paramount Pictures and Walt Disney Productions for the film ” Popeye “. Once filming ended the village became a touristic destination. I felt just like a child again when we arrived in the bay with dozens of colorful houses and I saw Popeye, Olive and Bluto.
Next stop was in Comino, the island with four inhabitants and billions of tourists. The wild and arid island hides among the rocks the Blue Lagoon, a place dropped off from haven.
Another day, another trip. This time we stayed on the island and went to Marsaxlokk . It’s a fishermen village of a ravishing beauty with a harbour full of thousands of traditional boats called luzzu. Painted in blue, yellow, red and white they are the pride of the locals, which they have inherited from their grandparents and will leave to future generations. The best place to eat here is Victor ‘s Tavern, a small and bohemian restaurant. Here I ate the most delicious Maltese food: homemade bread with olive oil and chopped tomatoes, rabbit stew, roast lamb, baked pork , baked potatoes with spices , pasta and I drank the coolest wine in Malta. Everything was so tasty that I think I gained two extra pounds.
Near Marsaxlokk you can visit the Blue Grotto, a huge rock which that looks like a stone arm over the sea and offers a spectacular view.
Another “must” is Hagar Qim, the megalithic temple. The locals say that this place is older than Stonehenge. The temple is made of of huge stones arranged horizontally and vertically to form rooms where the fertility goddess received offerings in the long gone past.
The last trip we did and one of my favorite was on the island of Gozo. It’s a 20-minute boat ride away from the main island and is the place with the lowest crime rate in the world. To understand why I say this, think that the locals leave their doors unlocked all day when they leave the house in order to make the guests welcome if they arrive when they’re not at home. Here is one of the places where miracles come alive, the Ta Pinu church. It’s recognized by the Vatican as beeing miraculous. History says that initially there was a wooden chapel that authorities tried to destroy untill one day a young woman heard a voice that was coming from the chapel. It was the voice of the Virgin Mary and it was coming from an icon of the Holy Mother. Authorities kept the icon and raised a big church in the same place where the wooden chapel was. In our days people that were very sick or families that couldn’t have children prayed here and they were cured or they had a baby. Before you think you’ve heard these type of story befor and you don’t believe it, I have to tell you that in Ta Pinu’s church walls there are three rooms where priests framed the thanks messages of those who were healed. People from all over the world have sent letters, pictures and all kind of proofs of the miracles. There are testimonies of people who say they have been cured of cancer or other serious illnesses or they had a baby when medicine gave them no chance.
Another spectacular place in Gozo is the Blue Window. It’s a natural bridge made by the sea and wind that shows the deep blue of the water. In the past a piece of it crashed into the sea and the rest doesn’t have much, so you must hurry to see it till it’s too late.
There is another amazing town to see in Malta. It’s Mdina, a place that dates from Phoenician times and that will make you dream with your eyes open, that’s how beautiful it is.
Visit Malta Travel website, I’m sure you’ll find some interesting offers for your holiday 🙂