Valletta, MaltaLocation: Europe
Valletta, the capital city of the Republic of Malta, is one of the exciting ports of call on a Disney Cruise Line European Cruise vacation. Malta is a nation spread across a string of 7 islands located south of Sicily in the Mediterranean, and the historic Grand Harbour is the focal point of the city. The city's fascinating history dates back 7,000 years to the dawn of civilization. Today, visitors can enjoy modern luxuries while also planning an escape into the past, touring temples that predate even the pyramids of Egypt and Stonehenge of England.
Things to See and Do
As more and more tourists discover every year, Malta is an extraordinary destination of marvelous beauty and heritage. Visitors can transport themselves through history with a tour of St. John's Cathedral and other grand palaces that dot the city.
Discover unique gifts on the main shopping streets of Republic and Merchant—lined with art galleries, souvenir shops, courtyards, gardens and cafes. Please your palate at the expansive waterfront's wide variety of eateries and bars.
As you sightsee around Valletta, don't forget to spend a few moments admiring the natural landscapes. Much more than just a small island nation, Malta is a popular film location, noted for its gorgeous geography and cinematic settings. Some of the films made here include Gladiator, U-571, The Count of Monte Cristo, Troy and Munich. While touring the city's narrow cobblestone streets, you can perhaps create your own home-movie magic.
Local Culture and Flavor
On your explorations through this vibrant port, you are encouraged to look for local treasures that Valletta is renowned for: glass-blown lamps, Maltese lace, silver filigree, muslin fabrics and carved wooden figurines.
Past and Present
The Maltese islands—from which so much art and culture has sprung—has a long history beginning around 800 BC when the Phoenicians colonized them. After a brief period of rule by the Carthaginians, the Roman Empire took over around 218 BC. Malta changed hands a number of times after the Romans, most notably into those of Arab conquerors from 870 AD. Other occupiers included the Byzantines, the Normans, the Swabians and the Aragonese. In 1530, the Knights of the Order of Saint John arrived in Malta. During their rule, the Order fought off the great Ottoman Empire of Turkey in the famous Great Siege.
The period of leadership under the Knights ended in 1798 when Napoleon Bonaparte took the islands, but this occupation was short- lived; the Maltese revolted against the French and the islands fell under the protection of the British Empire in 1800. Malta endured its second great siege during World War II. In honor of the Maltese people's bravery and endurance, the Malta Islands and its population were awarded the George Cross.
After many years of struggle for independence, Malta became a sovereign state within the British Commonwealth in 1964, finally gaining status as an independent republic in 1974.
Since then, trade and tourism have burgeoned, and there is no telling what treasures you'll uncover when you pay a visit to this ancient and historically significant city.