Partner content: Valletta

The past is never far away in the Maltese capital — the Phoenicians, Romans and Arabs all left their mark on VallettaFriday, 31 May 2019

The past is never far away in the Maltese capital — the Phoenicians, Romans and Arabs all left their mark on Valletta, so much so that the UNESCO World Heritage Site was deemed ‘a city built by gentlemen for gentlemen’ by Benjamin Disraeli in 1830. On the face of it, Valletta is a historical masterpiece — a terrific mishmash of ancient and baroque charm — but this is a city that embraces modernity as much as it does its history.

Visitors will soon discover its ancient architectural relics sit alongside contemporary masterpieces: Renzo Piano’s striking new City Gate, unveiled in 2014, has been a huge hit with visitors, while MUZA — the freshly polished National Museum of Art and the flagship project for Valletta’s European Capital City of Culture title in 2018 — deserves all the hype it gets, too. Set within the Auberge d’Italie, an elegant 16th-century palazzo, its carefully curated collection features historical pieces previously exhibited in the former National Museum of Fine Arts, as well as bold, modern works. Foodies will revel in the beautifully restored Is-Suq tal-Belt — a Victorian food court and market that’s
full of locals and in-the-know travellers looking for superb, casual eats. Elsewhere, it would be foolish to miss the kingpin of Valletta’s historical scene: the imposing St John’s Co-Cathedral, where Caravaggio’s mammoth The Beheading of St John the Baptist elicits gasps of pure admiration.

Cultural big-hitters aside, Valletta is one of the few capitals that sits within easy reach of world-class diving sites. Within driving distance are sunken wrecks, rich marine life and curious rock formations that create a breathtaking underwater experience.

Just a short flight from the UK, and blessed with near year-round sunshine, Valletta is the ultimate city-break destination. Not only does it serve up mouthwatering cuisine and historical gems, but there’s a cultural calendar bursting with festivals, events and exhibitions, and a chance for adventure all played out against poetic views of the Mediterranean.

DON'T MISS

One of the eclectic events that take place throughout the year, including the Malta Jazz Festival, Carnival and Mdina Grand Prix

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