Valletta and the Knights of Malta

Valletta Travel Blog

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The honey colored stone glows in the dawn as we sail into Valletta harbor

We all got up early to watch the sail into Valletta harbor.  The harbor walls and buildings are built of a lovely honey colored stone that shimmers in early morning light.  The light bounces back and forth across the calm, protected waters and across all the fortress walls before shining on the yachts and container ships moored alongside.

Malta is a 95 square mile island in the middle of the Mediterranean and has an immense harbor.   This island was populated even before it became a Phoenician colony in 1,000 BC.  In fact Megalithic temples were built here beginning in 4,100 BC which was even before the pyramids of Egypt and Stonehenge in England were built.

By mid day the stone walls appear more cream colored
  These temples were built of large blocks of the local limestone which are soft (for stone) when first cut and harden after exposure to air.  The Maltese continued building these large megalithic temples for the next 2,000 years or so (until about 2,500 BC).  The temples and the accompanying religious statues of fat women with large thighs have survived mainly intact due to the arid climate but are now protected for preservation.  They are so unimaginably old that I can’t begin to understand how they were made or for what purpose but I am glad to see that these people venerated fat women.  Culture has changed a lot in the past 6,500 years.

In Valletta, the largest town on the island, there are many other, more recent things to see.  Malta is a separate country now but has been associated with the Knight Templars from Jerusalem since they left Jerusalem and Rhodes in 1562 AD.
the richness of the Cathedral of St John has to be seen to be believed.
  These Knights were based in Malta (hence the Maltese Cross, Maltese Knights, even the Maltese Falcon) until 1798 when Napoleon invaded.  In those intervening two hundred years the Knights fortified Valletta and also built the amazing St. John’s Co-Cathedral.  The entire floor of this enormous church is paved with marble tombstones of the Knights, no two alike but all in glorious colored marble.  Valletta also holds tapestries, an impressive painting by Caravaggio and a host of other over-the-top-decorated-to-impress items.  The Maltese have their own language and currency but have no problems anywhere with speaking English and accepting Euros or US dollars.

We had lunch in one of the many outdoor cafes and drank wine while eating local fish and admiring the front of the Cathedral.  Our waiter was born in Valletta and advised me on local authors and a good local bookstore.  Of course I bought some books there.  And, yes, I'm enjoying my new habit of buying books by local authors.

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The honey colored stone glows in t…
The honey colored stone glows in …
By mid day the stone walls appear …
By mid day the stone walls appear…
the richness of the Cathedral of S…
the richness of the Cathedral of …
More scenes of sailing into the ha…
More scenes of sailing into the h…
and more
and more
The interplay of stone, morning li…
The interplay of stone, morning l…
An example of the artisan stone wo…
An example of the artisan stone w…
An entry to the ancient temple.  T…
An entry to the ancient temple. …
A carved doorway
A carved doorway
More stonework
More stonework
a more distant view of the temple
a more distant view of the temple
This is what the countryside of Ma…
This is what the countryside of M…
Hard to overlook the buses.
Hard to overlook the buses.
Main street in downtown Valletta, …
Main street in downtown Valletta,…
The archeology museum
The archeology museum
One of the goddesses from circa 3,…
One of the goddesses from circa 3…
an altar preserved from one of the…
an altar preserved from one of th…
An entrance to the Cathedral
An entrance to the Cathedral
the bell tower
the bell tower
Inside the Cathedral of St John
Inside the Cathedral of St John
One of the marble tombs of a Knigh…
One of the marble tombs of a Knig…
Another tomb
Another tomb
Another tomb
Another tomb
Back on the waterfront
Back on the waterfront
Valletta
photo by: Vikram