Malta is a small island nation located south of Sicily and north of Africa. People have been living here for more than 7,000 years! The historic nature of this place can be seen easily in the streets of the cities and in the remnants of ancient civilizations to be found in the countryside. Rather than trying to briefly describe the history of Malta to you I recommend you read this entry at Wikipedia. If you do you’ll learn about megalithic Ġgantija temples on the island of Gozo that are among the oldest free-standing structures on earth. You’ll learn that the Knights of St. John were here in the 16th and 17th centuries and built many of the large buildings still used today. You’ll learn that the Maltese asked both the French under Napoleon Bonaparte and the British to “adopt” them and colonize their islands. You’ll learn about the nearly three-year-long siege of Malta during World War 2 and its importance to the Allies fighting in North Africa.
Malta has 300 sunny days a year and a temperate winter climate. It’s beaches draw many tourists from Europe throughout the year. There are dozens of newer high-rise hotels and apartment buildings in the major cities of Valletta, Sliema, and St. Julien.
My apartment is in Sliema, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. The picture above shows the view from my balcony looking straight ahead. Here’s another showing the shoreline of St. Julien which is just a very few blocks north.
I set off this morning to find the ferry that makes a 5-minute crossing of the bay from Sliemma to Valletta, the capitol, where most of the famous buildings are located. To do that I needed to cross a small peninsula or walk around it. I did both! When I walked to the end of the peninsula I found a modern shopping mall that incorporates centuries-old military barracks.
When I walked across the peninsula I found the “old town” of Sliema, untouched by tourism, and apparently protected from development. Readers of this blog know by now that I love “old towns.” You can imagine how much I liked finding blocks of old houses built in a unique design with no tourists around except me, with bells pealing from old churches, with narrow streets climbing and descending the hills to water on both sides.
When I found the ferry on the busy (touristy) bay with some interesting boats and the 500 year old skyline of Valletta in the background I gave up on going to Valletta until tomorrow.
Instead I explored the old section of Sliema and made my way back to the apartment to share it with you.