What to see and photograph in Valletta
Valletta is the capital city of Malta, the smallest country in the EU. Valletta is the smallest capital city in the EU. Points of interest in Europe’s smallest capital are;
- Saint John’s Co-Cathedral
- Casa Rocca Piccola
- Palace Armoury
- Saluting Battery
- Lascaris War Rooms
- Siege Bell War Memorial
- Fortification Interpretation Centre
- St. Augustine Church
I stayed at the Saint John Hotel which is within walking distance of all the Valletta points of interest.
Saint John’s Co-Cathedral
From the exterior St John’s Co-Cathedral is an impressive example of Baroque architecture. The interior of St John’s Co-Cathedral reminded me of the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City. There was one huge difference to my experience in the St John’s which was that there were very few people. I recommend visiting at around 9 am, the entrance fee is 10 Euros. The reason you must pay to enter this cathedral is to contribute to the maintenance of it and it’s in pristine condition.
The most famous piece of artwork in the cathedral is The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist by Caravaggio.
Casa Rocca Piccola
The Casa Rocca Piccola is a well maintained 16th century palace. It’s the home of the noble De Piro family. You can take a tour of their house from Monday to Saturday. In 1918 and again in the second world war huge air raid shelters were added under the building. You will visit these huge bunkers as part of the tour of the palace.
Located in the Grandmasters Palace is the Palace Armoury. The armoury was built in in the 17th century. The collection of arms and armoury is one of the largest collections in the world which is still located in its original location.
If you do not wish to go inside you can appreciate the building from the huge St George’s Square in front of it. There are many restaurants in this square where you can sit out and relax. From time to time you can see the guards marching in front of the building.
A short walk from the saluting battery is the cruise ship terminal of Valletta Malta. In fact the cruise ship docks virtually in front of it. The saluting battery was mainly used for gun salutes. During the second world war it was used for military purposes. The guns are fired everyday at midday and 4 pm.
Lascaris War Rooms
Located below the saluting battery and the upper Barrakka gardens are the Lascaris war rooms. In the 1940’s the British made a secret underground in Valletta. During the second world war over 1000 people worked in the secret underground. Strategic operations were planned here such as the invasion of Sicily. The rooms were used during the Suez crisis and cold war. They are no longer used for military purposes.
Auberge De Castille
The office of the Prime Minister of Malta is located in the Auberge de Castille. The Baroque style building is located at the highest point of Valletta. Adjacent to the Auberge is the Stock Exchange of Malta. Around the corner you’ll find the Valletta city gates which were undergoing a huge makeover when I visited.
Museums of Valletta
You are spoilt for choice when it comes to museums in Valletta. The most important museum you must visit in Valletta is the national war museum (above). In the war museum you’ll learn how important the strategically placed Malta was during the world wars. The war museum is located in Fort St Elmo at the end of the peninsula. The following are notable museums in Valletta;
The Toy Museum might be of interest if you’re traveling to Valletta with kids.
St. Augustine Church
As you walk from the Sliema ferry terminal to the center of Valletta you may pass St. Augustine Church. If you pass on a Sunday you could be in for a treat. There are fireworks and the scene looks like it could be from a movie.
Siege Bell War Memorial
The siege bell war memorial is was built in 1992 to commemorate the allied forces victory during world war 2. It commemorates the victory of the second siege of Malta from 1940-43. The single bell located inside the belfry is the largest bell in Malta. Adjacent to the siege bell are the lower barrakka gardens from where you’ll have an incredible view of the harbor.
The view of the grand harbor from Valletta is stunning. I found the best place to view the harbor from was the upper barrakka gardens. If you are arriving on a cruise ship you’ll get a good view from there too. The grand harbor has been chosen to film many movies. Movies which have featured the Grand Harbor are Troy, Gladiator, Game of Thrones, Black Eagle, Munich, The Da Vinci Code, Captain Phillips and World War Z.
How to travel to the rest of Malta and Gozo from Valletta
Travel around Malta is easy. Outside of the city gates is the Valletta bus station. From here you can take the local bus service to anywhere on the Island and to the ferry to Gozo. There are over 2000 bus stops throughout the Islands of Malta and Gozo. The cost of a ticket is €2 and the tickets can be used on any bus within 2 hours. If you plan on using the service often then you can buy a 7 day pass for €21. If the local bus sounds too complicated then there is also a Hop On Hop Off bus service around Malta and Gozo.