VALLETTA

A CITY BUILT BY GENTLEMEN FOR GENTLEMEN

A CITY BUILT BY GENTLEMEN FOR GENTLEMEN​

When Benjamin Disraeli visited Valletta in 1830 before he became Britain's prime minister, he described it as "a city of palaces built by gentlemen for gentlemen", its architectural riches comparable to those of Venice and worthy of Palladio (Italian Architect – 30 Nov 1508 – 19 Aug 1580). 

Visitors today still share in Disraeli's view. Valletta is dominated by the vast cultural legacy of the Order of the Knights of St John who founded the city in 1566, and made it their seat for 232 years.  Named after French Grand Master Jean Parisot de la Valette, who defended the islands successfully at the Great Siege of Malta in 1565, Valletta was a fortress city.  Christian Europe's most southerly outpost against the Ottoman Empire.

 

A CITY WERE ART MEETS ART

Originally shaped as a fighting machine, Valletta changed guise even as its bastions and grand palaces, auberges, took shape.  After the Great Siege, riches flowed in from most of Europe's nobility and Valletta slipped into a new role as patron of the arts.  Valletta entered a golden age under the Knights as a showcase of leading-edge European culture, art and architecture.  So many of Europe's great creative genius of the time worked for the Order, Valletta could claim to be a forerunner city of culture. 

Among them was Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio whose largest and only signed canvas, depicting the beheading of St John the Baptist, hangs in St John's Co-Cathedral.

In today’s world, the art of auto engineering feels at home within the walls of the city as architectural art engineering and auto engineering form a perfect match.

 

A CITY BY ANOTHER NAME​

Any discussion of Valletta inevitably talks of Malta. The city and the state are inseparable. Malta takes on Valletta's mantle every time it is described as'Fortress Island', or 'Nurse of the Mediterranean' for its role in World War II. But can a micro island state in the Mediterranean have cities at all? Stand in Valletta's Upper Barrakka Gardens jostling with the tourists snapping photos of the Grand Harbour panorama and see the urban arc around you. 

Valletta's pull has always reached far beyond its bastions. Today, the city is a magnet attracting up to 60,000 commuters a day, yet it has around only 6,500 residents. Include its satellite towns and the population of this urban, 'greater Valletta' swells to around 250,000, well over half that of the Maltese Islands.

VALLETTA CONCOURS D'ELEGANCE