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The Heritage of Malta and Gozo

Overview

The history of Malta is a long and colourful one dating back to the dawn of civilisation. The Islands went through a golden Neolithic period, the remains of which are the mysterious temples dedicated to the goddess of fertility. Later on, the Phoenicians, the Carthaginians, the Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Normans, French and English all left their traces.

With 7,000 years of history, the Maltese Islands are steeped in culture and heritage of great variety including magnificent Baroque architecture, sacred art treasures, megalithic monuments, Bronze Age dolmens, Punic tombs, remains of Roman Villas and traces of prehistoric man.

With their deep colours and rugged landscape, the Maltese Islands have long inspired artists and those such as Caravaggio, Mattia Preti and Favray were commissioned by the Knights of St John to embellish churches and palaces. The 16th century masterpiece Grandmasters’ Palace still remains and the National Museum of Fine Arts, is housed in an exuberant Rococo building dating from the 1570’s, and exhibits some magnificent art, ranging from the early Renaissance to modern times.

We Recommend


All tours are tailor made to suit the itinerary and budget of the society. However we highly recommend the following:

  • All year travel due to Malta’s wonderful climate
  • A theatre visit; Valletta’s Manoel Theatre or one of the two opera houses in Victoria (Gozo)
  • Visiting the Hypogeum – a labyrinth of underground chambers
  • The Malta Experience – it offers an excellent overview of the history

What to Do

Valletta – The magnificent fortress city grew on an arid rock rising steeply from two deep harbours. It was completed, with its impressive bastions, forts and cathedral, in the astonishingly short time of 15 years. Valletta has many titles, all recalling its rich historical past. It is the “modern” city built by the Knights of St John; a masterpiece of the Baroque; a European Art City and a World Heritage City. It is one of the most concentrated historic areas in the world. The grid of narrow streets boasts some of Europe’s finest art works, churches and palaces as well as statues, fountains and tiny quaint shops and cafés.

Highlights include; St John’s Co-Cathedral & Museum; Grandmaster’s Palace & Armoury; St Paul’s Shipwreck Church; Casa Rocca Piccola; National Museum of Fine Arts; The National Archaelogical Museum; National War Museum; The Malta Experience; and Barracca Gardens.

Hal Saflieni Hypogeum – This underground cavity is a unique monument. Excavation has found incredible material including pottery, human bones, personal ornaments, little carved animals and larger figurines. The Hypogeum consists of halls, chambers and passages hewn out of the living rock and covering some 500 square metres.

Tarxien Temples – These date from 3600-2500 BC and are the most complex of all temple sites in Malta, consisting of four megalithic structures. The temples are renowned for the detail of their carvings and it offers an insight into how the temples were constructed.

Hagar Qim – This temple stands on a hilltop overlooking the sea. It consists of a single temple unit and various items of interest have been unearthed here, notably a decorated pillar altar, two table-altars and some of the ‘fat lady’ statues on display in the National Museum of
Archaeology.

Other Temples worth visiting are: Borg In-Nadur Temples– important as they appear to reveal a fortified, Bronze Age domestic settlement. Mnajdra Temples – probably the most atmospheric of all of Malta’s temples, and perhaps the finest surviving on the Islands. The masonry here shows intricate knowledge of building techniques and excellent workmanship.

Mdina & Rabat– The history of Mdina traces back more than 4000 years. According to tradition it was here that St. Paul is said to have lived after being shipwrecked on the Islands and residing inside a grotto. Today you can enjoy a stroll through the medieval narrow streets of sleepy, charming Mdina, which has changed little in the last 1000 years. Impressive palaces line its narrow, shady streets and it is one of Europe’s finest examples of an ancient walled city and extraordinary in its mix of medieval and baroque architecture. Nearby Rabat is home to The Roman Villa (Domus Romana – with well preserved mosaic pavements which are amongst the oldest in the Western Mediterranean), St Paul’s Catacombs, St. Paul’s Grotto and fine churches and monasteries.

The Three Cities, Vittoriosa, Cospicua and Senglea not so often visited, offer an intriguing and authentic insight into Malta and its history. Highlights include Fort St Angelo, Chapel of St. Anne, The Inquisitor’s Palace, Church of St Lawrence, and Hospital of the Order. There are also great harbour views across to Valletta and of Fort St Angelo in Vittoriosa.

Gozo – The sister island of Malta, and the second largest island in the Maltese archipelago. With a unique identity that the Gozitans are fiercely proud of Gozo is easily reached from Malta by ferry. Major attractions include Victoria, The capital of Gozo with its Citadella; Ggantija Temples; and Dwejra a natural beauty spot. The Citadella is home to Gozo Cathedral, a 17th century baroque Cathedral with its highly ornate interior; The Archeology Museum; and The Old Jail used as a prison from 16th to the early 20th century, has cells decorated with graffiti carved into the walls.

Other highlights on Gozo include the Ggantija Temples. These are the finest examples in Malta.The structures here are the oldest free-standing monuments in the world. Dwejra is a natural beauty spot famous for its natural landmarks. The Basilica of St George is a beautifully ornate Baroque masterpiece designed in the 17th century by Vittorio Casser, containing many works of art. St John the Baptist Church is famous for its dome and said to be the third largest unsupported dome in the world. Its massive size is out of all proportion to the small village and dominates the landscape for miles around.

 

To Book

Any of our tours can be tailored to suit your particular groups requirements.

For further details please contact one of the team on 01225 764205 or sales@successtours.com