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.


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.


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.


This is a street.

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



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.


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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