Malta sits in the middle of the crossroads of the Mediterranean being mid-way between Sicily and North Africa. It has played host to numerous civilizations which gives this island a unique culture. It is a blend of Arab, Byzantine and European cultures even with its own unique language. The island is blessed with the one of the Mediterranean’s largest natural harbors in the capital city of Valletta. The port is ringed by a number of massive fortifications with some dating back to the eleventh century.
Where Your Ship Docks – There are almost a dozen docking areas around Valletta harbor with several cruise ship docking areas being miles apart. Generally there aren’t anything you would call a cruise terminal but inside the security area at the docks there often are shops and public facilities. All docking areas allow walking out.
Transportation – Driving in the city is problematic, especially when it comes to negotiating tight corners and one-way streets and horrific rush hours. Parking is also limited, because in addition to the resident population, many Maltese drive into the city for business.
Buses are frequent with extensive routes. Fare is 2€ per trip but there is a “12 Single Day Journey” card for 15€ that can be shared by several people. While there is an unlimited tourist pass, unfortunately the shortest length is 7 days. There is also a circular bus route around the central city and harbor that serves all the docks. Look for buses with Kalkara Progress – Valletta markings. Tickets can be purchased from the Bus Driver on all these Buses. These Cash Tickets are Single Journey tickets that can be used to get to any destination within two hours, including interchanging. Rates vary between Summer and Winter months. Multi-day cards can be purchased at Sales and Information Offices and other leading outlets, and can be used immediately.
Currency – Malta uses the Euro and generally other currencies are not accepted. Most major credit cards are accepted and there are numerous ATM machines.
History – Malta has been occupied for about 5,000 years but became a pawn of numerous empires in the the Middle Ages when it became a crossroads in the Byzantine-Arab Wars. Invaded by the Arabs, who introduced new agricultural methods to the island. The Arabs also introduced the Siculo-Arabic language. The language is the basis of current-day Maltese.
The Normans took control of Malta around 1091, and were welcomed by the Christian population. At that time the Maltese islands became part of the Kingdom of Sicily, which encompassed half of Italy.
In 1530 the Order of Knights of St John or the Knights of Malta expanded to the island and ruled until 1798, building the present-day capital city Valletta.
The Sovereign Military Order of Malta, commonly referred to as the Knights of Malta, is a Catholic religious order, known for their military, chivalric and noble creed.
The Knights changed the face of the island building hospitals, increasing trade and erected massive fortifications. During the period of the Knights they defended Malta and held out for months during terrible fighting and huge assaults by the Ottoman army, in what is known as The Great Siege of 1565.
In 1798 Napoleon conquered the island, removing the Knights from power. In the six days after the victory a civil code was created for Malta. Slavery was abolished,Turkish slaves were freed and Napoleon himself created a primary and secondary education system.
The British Throne took over Malta after Napoleon and ruled the islands for the next 160 years.
Attractions – The Museum of Archaeology in Valletta houses an exceptional collection of prehistoric artifacts. The War Museum at Fort St. Elmo is home to a Sunday military parade in period costumes and the capital is home to the impressive Knights of Malta Grand Master’s Palace and St. John’s Co-cathedral.
With 7,000 years of history, there is much to see from megalithic sites, underground catacombs, churches and forts. Interactive walkthrough and multimedia attractions offer an overview of Malta’s history in under an hour. They’re interesting and a great way to learn the significance of what visitors will later be looking at.
The picturesque southern fishing village of Marsaxlokk and neighboring resort town of Marsascala are also worthy of a visit.
The island of Malta is blessed with the one of the Mediterranean’s largest natural harbors in the capital city of Valletta. The port is ringed by a number of massive fortifications with some dating back to the eleventh century
Links To Additional Information