Malta

Malta enjoys one of the best climates and locations of any island in the Mediterranean. It sits almost mid way between the shores of Europe and North Africa, and has been an important trading centre for centuries. With long and historic ties to the British Empire, and the Royal Navy in particular, Malta has a unique place in the affections of holidaymakers from the United Kingdom to this day.

You should definitely be on deck when you sail into the old harbour. The morning sun flits skittishly across the ancient stone ramparts and battlements of the port  of Valletta, just as it has done for centuries.Yachts bob idly at anchor, together with fussy little ferries and large cruise ships.  In fact, Valletta’s origins as a port can be traced right back to the Romans.  Originally fortified by the Knights Templar way back in the middle ages, Malta endured a horrific airborne assault during the Second World War.

Also worth seeing is the ancient, now largely deserted city of Mdina. It is well worth the journey from the capital. The current population is around three hundred people, in a city that was once the capital of Malta. Known as the ‘Silent City’ because of its almost complete lack of cars, it is worth seeing for the incredible, baroque masterpiece that is St. Paul’s cathedral. The sense of quiet unease here has to be experienced to be fully appreciated.

Stroll the ancient walls and battlements that overlook the yacht studded harbour, a perfect place for a long, lazy lunch, or some platinum chip people watching. In the centre of the city, the Co-Cathedral of St. John’s, built by the Knights Templar in 1577, is home to some incredible works of art by Caravaggio, amongst others. It is probably the single most visited site on the whole island.

The island’s heroic war record was such that it was awarded the George cross for gallantry. German and Italian aircraft attacked the island repeatedly for months on end, and shrapnel scars can still be seen in some of the buildings to this day.

Around the island, the coastline is often high and rocky, and this gives the island a rugged natural beauty that makes it a popular year round destination.

Getting around: Ships dock near the town centre in Valletta, which is a quite steep, uphill walk of around twenty minutes. However, an elevator has now been installed. Taxis are also available.

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