Frequently described as the “Mediterranean’s Best Kept Secret, this little island with its population of some 420,000 inhabitants, attracts millions of visitors from all over the world, all year round. Malta is steeped in history and enjoys an incredible culture that is well ingrained into the Maltese people’s way of life. English and Maltese are the two official languages and both are spoken fluently.
This unique tapestry formed with strands gathered from various cultures and nations over the millennia, has been woven together leaving Malta with an incomparable historic and cultural legacy. By simply walking or driving around the islands, one cannot fail to notice the eclectic mix of architecture, with Norman palaces, Baroque Churches, Semitic-looking homes and a good dose of British architecture all jostling for space in the towns, villages and cities. The visitor can walk through 7000 years of history or rather take a stroll through a sixteenth century city.
Speaking of which, two of Malta’s old cities are the ancient capital of Mdina and the newer capital of Valletta. Since the latter is over 430 years, it does not make it much “newer” after all. The old capital city of Mdina is a miniature walled city, which has stood the test of time since Arab occupation in the 9th and 10th centuries. In fact, it is an enchanting Silent City – as is affectionately known – offering spectacular views during the day and delightful mystery and romance at night. On the other hand, Valletta, a city built by the Knights, is a World Heritage Site and is more of a bustling centre of activity in the daytime, with shopping areas, outdoor cafes, museums and spectacular views of the Grand Harbour from the upper and Lower Barakka gardens. It is more serene in the evenings, where one can explore the ancient streets and discover many exquisite wine bars and restaurants. Incidentally, Valletta is also a popular location in filming industry.
In a nutshell, the Maltese islands are a treasure trove of historic delights, ranging from archaeologically important caves and the Ggantija temples in Gozo – even more ancient than Stonehenge, to illustrious palaces and British military heritage galore.
There is much more to Malta than history. Whether you are an intrepid explorer or whether you are looking for some hard earned rest, you will surely find too much to do! Malta has recently been nominated the world’s third favourite diving destination and the number one retirement destination by Yahoo Finance. You can sail, ramble or cycle your way around Malta, Gozo and Comino. The islands are blessed with almost year-round sun and spectacular sea views regardless from which direction you happen to be looking at. Sporting events are an integral part of Malta’s social calendar, such as the Rolex Middle Sea Race, the Power Boat P1 Grand Prix and a host of others.
The Maltese islands boast a bulging calendar of events with spectacular large-scale concerts. Theatres always have something going on, with the exception of summer perhaps, since many Maltese prefer to be outdoors. Therefore, entertainment takes to the streets in many forms. Such outdoor events include the Malta Summer Arts Festival, village festas, religious celebrations replete with spectacular fireworks displays, band marches, stunning street decorations and much more, cramming the summer months and lighting up the skies with fireworks at night.
One of Malta’s greatest attractions is its lifestyle. All three islands are h(e)aven for food and wine lovers. The Maltese love to eat out and the quality of cuisine is excellent with a heavy Mediterranean influence. Health services are also excellent and Malta’s new public hospital – Mater Dei – offers a level of health care comparable with the best private hospitals. Flying in and out of Malta is easy with several daily flights to all European destinations, as well as facilities for private jets. The boating scene is very active with several marinas all providing good quality facilities at very reasonable rates. All this laced with the Maltese reputation for warm hospitality, which dates back to the centuries, if not millennia. The “Acts of the Apostles” specifically mentions the warm welcome given by the locals when relating the account of St. Paul’s shipwreck on the Islands.
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