City Built By Gentlemen For Gentlemen
Map of the Maltese Archipelago with Valletta highlighted in red
|Region||South Eastern Region|
|District||South Harbour District|
|Established||28 March 1566|
|Capital city||18 March 1571|
|Founded by||Jean de Parisot Valette|
|• Mayor||Alfred Zammit (PL)|
|• Capital city and local council||0.61 km2 (0.24 sq mi)|
|Elevation||56 m (184 ft)|
|• Capital city and local council||5,827|
|• Density||9,600/km2 (25,000/sq mi)|
|Highest Record Population (1875): 25,275|
|Demonym(s)||Belti (m), Beltija (f), Beltin (pl) or Vallettan (m), Vallettana (f), Vallettani (pl)|
|Time zone||UTC+1 (CET)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC+2 (CEST)|
|ISO 3166 code||MT-60|
|Patron saints|| St. Dominic |
Our Lady of Mount Carmel
|Day of festa||3 August|
Valletta ( // , Maltese : il-Belt Valletta, Maltese pronunciation: [vɐˈlːɛtːɐ] ) is the capital city of Malta. Located in the South Eastern Region of the main island, between Marsamxett Harbour to the west and the Grand Harbour to the east, its population in 2014 was 6,444, while the metropolitan area around it has a population of 393,938. Valletta is second only to Nicosia as the southernmost capital of Europe, and at just 0.61 square kilometres (61 ha), it is the European Union's smallest capital city.
Valletta's 16th-century buildings were constructed by the Knights Hospitaller. The city was named after Jean Parisot de Valette, who succeeded in defending the island from an Ottoman invasion during the Great Siege of Malta. The city is Baroque in character, with elements of Mannerist, Neo-Classical and Modern architecture, though the Second World War left major scars on the city, particularly the destruction of the Royal Opera House. The city was officially recognised as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1980.
The city is noted for its fortifications, consisting of bastions, curtains and cavaliers, along with the beauty of its Baroque palaces, gardens and churches.
The peninsula was previously called Xagħret Mewwija (Mu' awiya – Meuia; named during the Arab period) or Ħal Newwija. Mewwija refers to a sheltered place. The extreme end of the peninsula was known as Xebb ir-Ras (Sheb point), of which name origins from the lighthouse on site. A family which surely owned land became known as Sceberras, now a Maltese surname as Sciberras. At one point the entire peninsula became known as Sceberras.
The building of a city on the Sciberras Peninsula had been proposed by the Order of Saint John as early as 1524.Back then, the only building on the peninsula was a small watchtower dedicated to Erasmus of Formia (Saint Elmo), which had been built in 1488.
In 1552, the Aragonite watchtower was demolished and the larger Fort Saint Elmo was built in its place.
In the Great Siege of 1565, Fort Saint Elmo fell to the Ottomans, but the Order eventually won the siege with the help of Sicilian reinforcements. The victorious Grand Master, Jean de Valette, immediately set out to build a new fortified city on the Sciberras Peninsula to fortify the Order's position in Malta and bind the Knights to the island. The city took his name and was called La Valletta.
The Grand Master asked the European kings and princes for help, receiving a lot of assistance due to the increased fame of the Order after their victory in the Great Siege. Pope Pius V sent his military architect, Francesco Laparelli, to design the new city, while Philip II of Spain sent substantial monetary aid. The foundation stone of the city was laid by Grand Master de Valette on 28 March 1566. He placed the first stone in what later became Our Lady of Victories Church.
In his book Dell’Istoria della Sacra Religione et Illustrissima Militia di San Giovanni Gierosolimitano (English: The History of the Sacred Religion and Illustrious Militia of St John of Jerusalem), written between 1594 and 1602, Giacomo Bosio writes that when the cornerstone of Valletta was placed, a group of Maltese elders said: "Iegi zimen en fel wardia col sceber raba iesue uquie" (Which in modern Maltese reads, "Jiġi żmien li fil-Wardija [l-Għolja Sciberras] kull xiber raba' jiswa uqija", and in English, "There will come a time when every piece of land on Sciberras Hill will be worth its weight in gold").
De Valette died from a stroke on 21 August 1568 at age 74 and never saw the completion of his city. Originally interred in the church of Our Lady of the Victories, his remains now rest in St. John's Co-Cathedral among the tombs of other Grand Masters of the Knights of Malta.
Francesco Laparelli was the city's principal designer and his plan departed from medieval Maltese architecture, which exhibited irregular winding streets and alleys. He designed the new city on a rectangular grid plan, and without any collacchio (an area restricted for important buildings). The streets were designed to be wide and straight, beginning centrally from the City Gate and ending at Fort Saint Elmo (which was rebuilt) overlooking the Mediterranean; certain bastions were built 47 metres (154 ft) high. His assistant was the Maltese architect Girolamo Cassar, who later oversaw the construction of the city himself after Laparelli's death in 1570.
The Ufficio delle Case regulated the building of the city as a planning authority.
The city of Valletta was mostly completed by the early 1570s, and it became the capital on 18 March 1571 when Grand Master Pierre de Monte moved from his seat at Fort St Angelo in Birgu to the Grandmaster's Palace in Valletta.
Seven Auberges were built for the Order's Langues, and these were complete by the 1580s.An eighth Auberge, Auberge de Bavière, was later added in the 18th century.
In Antoine de Paule's reign, it was decided to build more fortifications to protect Valletta, and these were named the Floriana Lines after the architect who designed them, Pietro Paolo Floriani of Macerata.During António Manoel de Vilhena's reign, a town began to form between the walls of Valletta and the Floriana Lines, and this evolved from a suburb of Valletta to Floriana, a town in its own right.
In 1634, a gunpowder factory explosion killed 22 people in Valletta.In 1749, Muslim slaves plotted to kill Grandmaster Pinto and take over Valletta, but the revolt was suppressed before it even started due to their plans leaking out to the Order. Later on in his reign, Pinto embellished the city with Baroque architecture, and many important buildings such as Auberge de Castille were remodeled or completely rebuilt in the new architectural style.
In 1775, during the reign of Ximenes, an unsuccessful revolt known as the Rising of the Priests occurred in which Fort Saint Elmo and Saint James Cavalier were captured by rebels, but the revolt was eventually suppressed.
In 1798, the French invaded the island and expelled the Order.After the Maltese rebelled, French troops continued to occupy Valletta and the surrounding harbour area, until they capitulated to the British in September 1800. In the early 19th century, the British Civil Commissioner, Henry Pigot, agreed to demolish the majority of the city's fortifications. The demolition was again proposed in the 1870s and 1880s, but it was never carried out and the fortifications have survived largely intact.
Eventually building projects in Valletta resumed under British rule. These projects included widening gates, demolishing and rebuilding structures, widening newer houses over the years, and installing civic projects. The Malta Railway, which linked Valletta to Mdina, was officially opened in 1883.It was closed down in 1931 after buses became a popular means of transport.
In 1939, Valletta was abandoned as the headquarters of the Royal Navy Mediterranean Fleet due to its proximity to Italy and the city became a flash point during the subsequent two-year long Siege of Malta.German and Italian air raids throughout the Second World War caused much destruction in Valletta and the rest of the harbor area. The Royal Opera House, constructed at the city entrance in the 19th century, was one of the buildings lost to the raids.
In 1980, the 24th Chess Olympiad took place in Valletta.
The entire city of Valletta has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1980, along with Megalithic Temples of Malta and the Hypogeum of Ħal-Saflieni.On 11 November 2015 Valletta hosted the Valletta Summit on Migration in which European and African leaders discussed the European migrant crisis. After that, on 27 November 2015 the city also hosted part of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2015.
Valletta was the European Capital of Culture in 2018.
The Valletta Local Council was established by the Local Councils Act of 1993, along with the other local councils of Malta.The first election was held on 20 November 1993. Other elections were held in 1996, 1999, 2002, 2005, 2008, 2013, 2017. The present local council was elected in 2019. The local council is housed in a building in South Street.
The following people have served as Mayors of Valletta:
Valletta is the capital city of Malta,and is the country's administrative and commercial hub. The Parliament of Malta has been housed at the Parliament House near the city's entrance since 2015: it was previously housed at the Grandmaster's Palace in the city centre. The latter palace still houses the Office of the President of Malta, while the Auberge de Castille houses the Office of the Prime Minister of Malta. The courthouse and many government departments are also located in Valletta.
The Valletta peninsula has two natural harbours, Marsamxett and the Grand Harbour.The Grand Harbour is Malta's major port, with unloading quays at nearby Marsa. A cruise-liner terminal is located along the old seawall of the Valletta Waterfront that Portuguese Grandmaster Manuel Pinto da Fonseca built.
Valletta features a hot-summer Mediterranean climate with hot, slightly long, dry summers and mild, wet winters, with an average temperature above 19 °C (66 °F). Valletta experiences a lack of precipitation during the summer months and most of the precipitation happens during the winter months. Winter temperatures are moderated by the surrounding sea, as a result, the city has very mild winters. The official climate recording station in Malta is at Luqa Airport, which is a few miles inland from Valletta. Average high temperatures range from around 16 °C (61 °F) in January to about 32 °C (90 °F) in August, while average low temperatures range from around 10 °C (50 °F) in January to 23 °C (73 °F) in August.
|Climate data for Luqa Airport, Malta 1981–2010 (Records 1947–present)|
|Record high °C (°F)||22.2|
|Average high °C (°F)||15.6|
|Daily mean °C (°F)||12.8|
|Average low °C (°F)||9.9|
|Record low °C (°F)||1.4|
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||98.5|
|Average relative humidity (%)||79||79||79||77||74||71||69||73||77||78||77||79||76|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||159.0||171.0||224.0||247.0||300.0||328.0||365.0||338.0||260.0||221.0||185.0||156.0||2,954|
|Source 1: Meteo Climate (1981-2010 Data)|
|Source 2: German Meteorological Service (sunshine duration 1961-1990) NSO Malta|
The architecture of Valletta's streets and piazzas ranges from mid-16th century Baroque to Modernism. The city is the island's principal cultural center and has a unique collection of churches, palaces and museums and act as one of the city's main visitor attractions. When Benjamin Disraeli, future British Prime Minister, visited the city in 1830, he described it as "a city of palaces built by gentlemen for gentlemen," and remarked that "Valletta equals in its noble architecture, if it does not excel, any capital in Europe," and in other letters called it "comparable to Venice and Cádiz" and "full of palaces worthy of Palladio."
Buildings of historic importance include St John's Co-Cathedral, formerly the Conventual Church of the Knights of Malta. It has the only signed work and largest painting by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio.The Auberge de Castille et Leon, formerly the official seat of the Knights of Malta of the Langue of Castille, Léon and Portugal, is now the office of the Prime Minister of Malta. The Grandmaster's Palace, built between 1571 and 1574 and formerly the seat of the Grand Master of the Knights of Malta, used to house the Maltese Parliament, now situated in a purpose-built structure at the entrance to the city, and now houses the offices of the President of Malta.
The National Museum of Fine Arts is a Rococo palace dating back to the late 1570s, which served as the official residence of the Commander-in-Chief of the Mediterranean Fleet during the British era from the 1820s onwards. The Manoel Theatre (Maltese : Teatru Manoel) was constructed in just ten months in 1731, by order of Grand Master António Manoel de Vilhena, and is one of the oldest working theatres in Europe. The Mediterranean Conference Centre was formerly the Sacra Infermeria. Built in 1574, it was one of Europe's most renowned hospitals during the Renaissance. The fortifications of the port, built by the Knights as a magnificent series of bastions, demi-bastions, cavaliers and curtains, approximately 100 metres (330 ft) high, all contribute to the unique architectural quality of the city.
Valletta contains a number of unofficial neighbourhoods, including:
The Valletta Campus of the University of Malta is situated in the Old University Building. It serves as an extension of the Msida Campus, especially offering international masters programmes.
A church school, "St. Albert the Great", is also situated in Valletta. The Headmaster is Alternattiva Demokratika politician Mario Mallia.
Valletta has been designated European Capital of Culture for 2018.The year was inaugurated with an event called Erba' Pjazez (Four Squares), with shows focused in 4 plazas in the city – Triton Square, St. George's Square, St. John's Square, and Castille Square – along with other shows in other points. This was followed by the unveiling of a public art installation, Kif Jgħid il-Malti (Maltese Sayings), which featured a number of Maltese language proverb figured in gypsum, in order to engage linguistic heritage.
Saint James Cavalier, originally a raised gun platform, was converted into a Centre of Creativity in the year 2000 as part of Malta's Millennium Project. It now houses a small theatre, a cinema, music rooms and art galleries. Various exhibitions are regularly held there. It has welcomed over a million visitors since opening.
The Valletta International Baroque Festival is held every year in January. Jazz music in Malta was introduced in the Strait Street area, frequented by Allied sailors during both World Wars.[ citation needed ] Malta's Jazz Festival took place here. Strait Street is also known as The Gut. This area is undergoing a programme of regeneration. The city's dual band clubs are the "King's Own Band Club" (Maltese : L-Għaqda Mużikali King's Own) and "La Valette National Philharmonic Society" (Maltese : Is-Soċjetà Filarmonika Nazzjonali La Valette).[ citation needed ]
Valletta is the scene of the Maltese Carnival, held in February leading up to Lent.In 1823 the Valletta carnival was the scene of a human crush tragedy in which at least 110 boys perished.
Valletta is twinned with:
Malta International Airport is 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) from the city in the town of Luqa. Malta's public transport system, which uses buses, operates mostly on routes to or from Valletta, with their central terminus just outside the city gate. Traffic within the city itself is restricted, with some principal roads being completely pedestrian areas. In 2006, a park and ride system was implemented in order to increase the availability of parking spaces in the city. People can leave their vehicles in a nearby Floriana car park and transfer to a van for the rest of the trip.
In 2007, a congestion pricing scheme was implemented to reduce long-term parking and traffic while promoting business in the city.An ANPR-based automated system takes photos of vehicles as they enter and exit the charging zone and vehicle owners are billed according to the duration of their stay.
Valletta is served by a fleet of electric taxis which transport riders from 10 points in Valletta to any destination in the city.
Birgu, also known by its title Città Vittoriosa, is an old fortified city on the south side of the Grand Harbour in the South Eastern Region of Malta. The city occupies a promontory of land with Fort Saint Angelo at its head and the city of Cospicua at its base. Birgu is ideally situated for safe anchorage, and over time it has developed a very long history with maritime, mercantile and military activities.
The Great Siege of Malta occurred in 1565 when the Ottoman Empire attempted to conquer the island of Malta, then held by the Knights Hospitaller. The siege lasted nearly four months, from 18 May to 11 September 1565.
Fort Saint Elmo is a star fort in Valletta, Malta. It stands on the seaward shore of the Sciberras Peninsula that divides Marsamxett Harbour from Grand Harbour, and commands the entrances to both harbours along with Fort Tigné and Fort Ricasoli. It is best known for its role in the Great Siege of Malta of 1565.
The Grand Harbour, also known as the Port of Valletta, is a natural harbour on the island of Malta. It has been substantially modified over the years with extensive docks, wharves, and fortifications.
Marsamxett Harbour, historically also referred to as Marsamuscetto, is a natural harbour on the island of Malta. It is located to the north of the larger Grand Harbour. The harbour is generally more dedicated to leisure use than the Grand Harbour.
Saint James Cavalier is a 16th-century cavalier in Valletta, Malta, which was built by the Order of St John. It overlooks St James' Bastion, a large obtuse-angled bastion forming part of the Valletta Land Front. St James was one of nine planned cavaliers in the city, although eventually only two were built, the other one being the identical Saint John's Cavalier. It was designed by the Italian military engineer Francesco Laparelli, while its construction was overseen by his Maltese assistant Girolamo Cassar. St James Cavalier never saw use in any military conflict, but it played a role during the Rising of the Priests in 1775.
The Grandmaster's Palace, officially known as The Palace, is a palace in Valletta, Malta. It was built between the 16th and 18th centuries as the palace of the Grand Master of the Order of St. John, who ruled Malta, and was also known as the Magisterial Palace. It eventually became the Governor's Palace, and it currently houses the Office of the President of Malta. Parts of the building, namely the Palace State Rooms and the Palace Armoury, are open to the public as a museum run by Heritage Malta.
This page list topics related to Malta.
The Auberge de Castille is an auberge in Valletta, Malta, that now houses the Office of the Prime Minister of Malta, Robert Abela. The auberge is located at Castile Place, close to Saint James Cavalier, the Malta Stock Exchange, and the Upper Barrakka Gardens. It sits at the highest point of Valletta and overlooks Floriana and the Grand Harbour area.
Malta was ruled by the Knights Hospitaller, or Order of Saint John, as a vassal state of the Kingdom of Sicily from 1530 to 1798. The islands of Malta and Gozo, as well as the city of Tripoli in modern Libya, were granted to the Order by Spanish Emperor Charles V in 1530, following the loss of Rhodes. The Ottoman Empire managed to capture Tripoli from the Order in 1551, but an attempt to take Malta in 1565 failed.
The Auberge de Bavière is a palace in Valletta, Malta. It was built as Palazzo Carneiro in 1696, and it was the residence of Grand Master Marc'Antonio Zondadari in the early 18th century. In 1784, it was converted into the auberge for the Anglo-Bavarian langue of the Order of Saint John, and it remained so until the French occupation of Malta in 1798.
The Auberge d'Italie is an auberge in Valletta, Malta. It was built at various stages in the late 16th century to house knights of the Order of Saint John from the langue of Italy, and it originally had a Mannerist design by Girolamo Cassar and several other architects. The building continued to be modified throughout the course of the 17th century, with the last major renovation being carried out in the 1680s during the magistracy of Gregorio Carafa, giving the building a Baroque character.
Girolamo Cassar was a Maltese architect and military engineer. He was the resident engineer of the Order of St. John, and was admitted into the Order in 1569. He was involved in the construction of Valletta, initially as an assistant to Francesco Laparelli, before taking over the project himself. He designed many public, religious and private buildings in the new capital city, including Saint John's Co-Cathedral, the Grandmaster's Palace and the auberges. He was the father of Vittorio Cassar, another architect and engineer.
Auberge d'Angleterre is an auberge in Birgu, Malta. It was built in around 1534 to house knights of the Order of Saint John from the langue of England. It now houses a health centre, and it is the best-preserved Hospitaller auberge in Birgu.
The fortifications of Valletta are a series of defensive walls and other fortifications which surround Valletta, the capital city of Malta. The first fortification to be built was Fort Saint Elmo in 1552, but the fortifications of the city proper began to be built in 1566 when it was founded by Grand Master Jean de Valette. Modifications were made throughout the following centuries, with the last major addition being Fort Lascaris which was completed in 1856. Most of the fortifications remain largely intact today.
The Manderaggio is a neighbourhood in Valletta, Malta. It is located behind the Manderaggio Curtain of the fortifications of Valletta, on the side of Marsamxett Harbour.
Palazzo Parisio, sometimes known as Casa Parisio, is a palace in Valletta, Malta. It was built in the 1740s by Domenico Sceberras, and eventually passed into the hands of the Muscati and Parisio Muscati families. It was Napoleon's residence for six days in June 1798, during the early days of the French occupation of Malta. The palace was eventually acquired by the de Piro family, and was later purchased by the Government of Malta. It was used as the General Post Office from 1886 to 1973, then the Ministry for Agriculture, and it now houses the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.
The 1749 Muslim slave revolt in Malta, was a failed plot by Muslim slaves in Hospitaller-ruled Malta to rebel, assassinate Grand Master Manuel Pinto da Fonseca and take over the island. The revolt was to have taken place on 29 June 1749, but plans were leaked to the Order before it began; the plotters were arrested and most were later executed.
Maltese Baroque architecture is the form of Baroque architecture that developed in Malta during the 17th and 18th centuries, when the islands were under the rule of the Order of St. John. The Baroque style was introduced in Malta in the early 17th century, possibly by the Bolognese engineer Bontadino de Bontadini during the construction of the Wignacourt Aqueduct. The style became popular in the mid to late 17th century, and it reached its peak during the 18th century, when monumental Baroque structures such as Auberge de Castille were constructed.
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