Valletta

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Valletta is Europe’s smallest capitol city. It’s population today is under 5000 although its metropolitan area is more tha 350,000. It sits on a high hill, surrounded by massive walls. It’s been besieged three times and damage from the siege of World War 2 can still be seen.

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Valletta is the purest example of a renaissance city in Europe today. The Knights Hospitalers (also known as the Order of St. John) took refuge in Malta in the 16th century. It is a planned city, built on a barren hilltop. The Grand Master of the Knights in 1566, a Frenchman named La Valette, determined to build an elegant city in an impregnable location and he succeeded. Valletta takes its name from his.

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The Knights built an extraordinary collection of stone buildings including many churches, palaces and Europe’s longest hospital when it was built in 1574. Today that structure is a Conference Center.

Yesterday I took a short ferry ride from Sliema to Valletta then climbed the stair-stepped streets to the top of the town.

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This is a street.

I found a charming small city 12 blocks long and nine bocks wide. Broad avenues run along the ridge.

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There are many old mercantile buildings along the main streets. I like this one, which mixes an old “draper’s shop” (still selling fabrics) with a more up to date sushi restaurant.

At the center St. John’s Co-Cathedral takes pride-of-place. It is truly extraordinary! I’ll show you that tomorrow.

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Not many people actually live in Valletta and many of those who do live in old tenement buildings like this one I found at the water’s edge.

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