As we made our way into the harbor of Valletta this morning, we can see the city walls and some of the ancient stone. There are 2 other cruise ships here today, both of them are huge. The MSC Fantasia has 3274 passengers and the Emerald Princess has 3092. Both make our ship look like a toy by comparison – we have 680 passengers and we like it like that!
Today we decided to do the hop on hop off bus to see Valletta and other parts of Malta. Valletta was started in 1566 and was completed, including all of the forts and cathedrals, in just 15 years, which is remarkable considering it was all done by hand, as mechanical tools didn’t exist then.
The city of Valletta was built by the Knights of St John and is a World Heritage City. It is one of the most concentrated historic areas in the world. It was heavily bombed in WW II but it was in a strategic position with deep ports – located between Italy and the coast of Africa. It was awarded a citation by Roosevelt and the placque is on the wall of the Grand Master’s Palace in the square in Valletta. It was under British rule for a long time but is now independent although all of the signs are in English and they drive on the “wrong” side of the road!
First we went to the “Silent City” of Mdina. Mdina means “walled city” in Arabic. The history traces back 4000 years. It is a medieval walled city and takes it’s “silent” name seriously. Few cars are allowed inside the city walls and there are strict noise ordinances. So, even with all of the tourists, it was wonderful to walk around this beautiful place. The population is only 300.
I had fun capturing some of the door knockers! Norm says he likes the big ones (no comment here).
The views from the walls of the city are quite spectacular. Probably one of the reasons for weddings here.
We passed the Ta’ Qali, a former World War II airfield in the center of Malta that has now become an enormous crafts village. They are known for filigree jewelry, hand blown glass (beautiful) and lace. And T-shirts.
We then explored Valletta and walked back to the ship. I must say they have good gelato here too. And you still see the phone booths everywhere!
Tomorrow we are at sea, which will be a good rest from the heat and all the walking, then it is on to Rhodes, Greece.