Malta Journals

Children of Empire: Malta

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A January 2010 trip to Malta by michaelhudson

Valletta Photo, Valletta, Malta More Photos
Quote: Malta out-of-season, January 2010. Staying in St Julian's, I travelled by bus to Rabat and Mdina in the west, Attard and Mosta in the centre, and Valletta and the Three Cities in the east. Sometimes it rained, but the sun shone more often.

Valletta

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Floriana Photo, Valletta, Malta
Quote:
My guidebook called Floriana "a quiet little town that feels like a suburb of Valletta" and that was pretty much what it was. There were monuments to dead airmen and independence, a Roman square with stone columns spaced about like stumps in a forest clearing, a cat-feeding station, a boarded up church with Sex room? scrawled on what used to be the window, and a look-out point over a white and beige jumble of houses and church domes and factory chimneys as if someone had managed to squeeze a provincial Italian city together with a Lancashire milltown and the outskirts of Fez.I passed back through the bus station, through the City Gate and into a square straight out of a Disn...Read More

The Three Cities

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The Three Cities Photo, Vittoriosa, Malta
Quote:
When Charles I of Spain invited the Knights of St John to take possession of Malta, Birgu was the place they chose to settle, fortifying an area that swelled to become the Three Cities of Cospicua, Senglea and Vittoriosa, renamed in celebration of the Great Siege of 1565. Traces of the Knights are still visible throughout the Three Cities, though less so in Senglea, which was largely flattened during dive-bombing runs on the nearby dockyards during WWII. For tourist purposes, the Three Cities became the Four Cities in the late-19th century when the British got into the fort building act too, throwing up Fort Rinella to house the state-of-the-art, world's biggest cannon, Armstrong 100-to...Read More

From Rabat to Attard

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Rabat Photo, Mdina, Malta
Quote:
Cross back over Howard Gardens and you're out of Mdina and into Rabat, a small town with only three things worth seeing. On the traffic-spoiled main square is St Paul's Church and Grotto, a large, gloomy place designed in Baroque style and built above a cave where the saint of the same name was supposedly interred for three months in 60AD. Hang around for more than a few minutes and you'll be given a brief guided tour of the church - statue of Saint Paul here, painting of Saint Paul there - before going down to the grotto itself, chisel marks still visible in the ceiling and donation plate by the door. A few hundred metres away, signposted and almost directly opposi...Read More

Hotel Alexandra

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Hotel Alexandra Photo, Saint Julian's, Malta
Quote:
The Hotel Alexandra is an easy place to find, opposite Portomaso Tower - and you can see that from virtually the entire island - and a few dozen metres from the Millennium Church. It's around twenty minutes by bus to Valletta and only a few minutes on foot to the best of Malta's nightlife at Paceville or the casino at the Dragonara Resort.The room - booked via hostelbookers for under £20 a night single occupancy including breakfast - was a genuine bargain. Tiled-floored and pastel-coloured, it was huge and airy, and adequately, if a little datedly, furnished to lower three star standard. There was a TV (no r...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on February 5, 2010

Hotel Alexandra
Schreiber Street
Saint Julians, Malta
+356 2135 1151

The Silent City

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Mdina Photo, Mdina, Malta
Quote:
Mdina is Malta's oldest city. Inhabited by Phoenicians, Romans, Arabs and Sicilians, it was the island's capital before the Knights of St John arrived, and remained home to much of its nobility.The first of Malta's citadels remains heavily fortified, enclosed by high walls and entered by one of two gates. The main entrance, Mdina Gate, is by the Howard Gardens bus stop, where all the services from the coast pull in. Immediately through the gate is St Publius Square, the Museum of Natural History and the Mdina Dungeons on the right. Take a left and you'll find yourself among a tight warren of narrow, high-walled streets, opening suddenly into odd-shape...Read More
Floriana Photo, Valletta, Malta
Quote:
If Sicily is, as D.H. Lawrence once wrote, an island on the brink - "one hop and you're out of Europe" - then Malta's so close to the edge you barely have room for a sidestep: virtually all of history's major civilisations swept through here, ending with the British, who stayed from the Treaty of Paris in 1814 until independence in 1964 (though the troops remained for another fifteen years, and the influence still lingers).If Sicily had been conquered by the English this is how it might have looked. Red telephone boxes, Mothercare and Next, signs with Today's London newspapers on sale here, English spoken everywhere, British-built cars on the roads that are older than ...Read More