Malta’s violent past placed it at the center of Mediterranean power conflicts and the shifting cultures of Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. Its unique history was formed by Phoenicians, Romans, Greeks, Arabs, Normans, Sicilians, Swabians, Aragonese, Hospitallers, French, and British.
Thus, the country has several Malta historical sites. Here are 10 must-sees:
- Valletta’s Grandmasters Palace
Since the 16th century, Malta’s power has centered at Valletta’s Grandmasters Palace. The Knights Hospitaller of St. John established the Grandmasters Palace their base in 1571; they stayed there until 1798.
The State Rooms and Armoury of the Grandmasters Palace are available to the public. The magnificent State Rooms feature various art collections, including The Great Siege Frescoes by Matteo Perez Dalessio. The Palace Armoury houses Knights’ Hospitaller armor and weapons.
2. Temples Of Ggantija
The UNESCO-listed Ggantija Temples are among the world’s oldest religious buildings.
It’s uncertain when the Ggantija Temples, two well-preserved stone temples, were erected. UNESCO dates their origins to 3,000–2,200 BC, whereas some say 3,600 BC.
3. Palace Verdala
Grandmaster Hugues Loubenx de Verdalle erected the Verdala Palace in Buskett Gardens in 1586. It was a jail for French troops captured by the Maltese or British during the French Blockade of 1798-1800 and a silk factory during British authority, but it fell into ruin in the early 1800s.
Since Verdala Palace is a private residence, it’s closed to the public, but Buskett Gardens and Siggiewi provide magnificent views. Game of Thrones fans would recognize the palace as the outside of Illyrio Mopatis’ home in Pentos.
4. Malta Aviation Museum
The Malta Aviation Museum in Takali has a large collection of planes, uniforms, and equipment.
The Malta Aviation Museum focuses on WWII, especially Malta’s participation between 1940 and 1943. The ‘Air Battle of Malta Memorial Hangar’ features a Supermarine Spitfire MkIX and a Hawker Hurricane MkIIA.
Mnajdra is a UNESCO World Heritage site in Malta.
The oldest Mnajdra temples were erected between 3,600 and 3,200 BC, during the Ggantija period.
6. St. John’s Cathedral
Valletta’s St John’s Co-Cathedral is a reminder of Malta’s period under the Knights Hospitaller of St John.
The Knights Hospitaller built this beautiful cathedral. St John’s Co-Cathedral has frescoes, murals, and sculptures within despite its plain exterior. Many depict the cathedral’s namesake. St John’s Cathedral has numerous Caravaggio paintings. St John’s Co-Cathedral has this artist’s only signature work.
7. Malta Archaeology Museum
Malta’s National Museum of Archaeology is located at the Auberge de Provence, home of the Knights of St. John. It has an extraordinary collection of artifacts going back to 5,000 BC, including Neolithic, bronze age, Phoenician, Punic, Roman, and Byzantine artifacts.
8. Hagar Qim
Hagar Qim is a megalithic temple in Malta. Hagar Qim dates to about 3,600 BC and 3,200 BC and may have formerly been a greater structure. Prehistoric buildings exist nearby.
Hagar Qim and Mnajdra are often seen together since they are close.
9. Mgarr WWII Shelter
Malta’s Mgarr Second World War Shelter was one of many subterranean bomb shelters utilized during the Siege. The Italians and German Luftwaffe bombed Malta from 1940 to 1943 during the Siege of Malta.
Since being discovered under a restaurant, the shelter has been renovated. Today, visitors may tour its underground tunnels and learn about the Maltese war experience.
10. Lascaris War Rooms
The Lascaris War Rooms in Malta was an important military headquarters during World War II, where the invasion of Sicily and other operations were organized. Lascaris War Rooms were a hidden underground network of tunnels.
Lascaris War Rooms, a Royal Navy outpost after WWII, became a NATO communication center in the 1960s. Since 2009, the Malta Heritage Trust has managed this renowned tourist attraction.