About place: Valletta

As regards to the quantity and quality of historical sites, crammed on a small territory, Malta is unmatched. It would be enough to remember that it the home of the most ancient hand-made construction on the Earth. It is a megalithic temple Ggantija on the island Gozo dating back to 3600 B.C. (for reference, the Pyramid of Cheops was constructed in 2550 B.C.).

Malta is located on the intersection of the main trade ways and was settled as long ago as VIII B.C. The island in turn belonged to the Phoenician, Greek, Carthaginian, Roman, Byzan-tine, Arab, Norman (they give it to the Order of St. John of Jerusalem), Spanish, French, and English. Every state turning into the superpower of its time thought it necessary to capture Malta, and control the trade ways of the Mediterranean Region. This explains such a number of historical sites that you can see on the island.

In spite of its long history, the main sights of Malta are related to the time when there were settled the Knights of St. John or Joanites in XVI century (later they were called the Knights of Malta).

Today capital of Malta, Valetta (La-Valetta), was built by the Grand Master Jean Parisot de Valette. Originally, the city was planned as a strong citadel designed to defend the knights from constant attacks of Turks. The problem was especially acute after the knights could hardly resist the army of Suleiman the Magnificent in 1565.

The city is divided into perfect squares. And all streets are only crossed at right angles. The buildings aren't tall, and are closely spaced. It was conditioned by the necessity to get there as many as possible residential buildings and auxiliary constructions, so that the population of the island could stand a continuous siege behind the walls of the city. Later, when the threat of Turkish invasion was eliminated, there appeared more palaces in Valetta as the knights also wanted to be more comfortable.

The Palace of the Grand Master of the Order of the Knights of St. John is the primary sight of Valetta. It is located in the very heart of the city. The two-storey building of the palace is on one of the few squares of the citadel. Now it is the residence of the President of Malta, as well as the seat of the national Parliament. The palace houses a huge collection knight's weapons. It would also be interesting to see the ceremonial halls of the palace.

St. John's Cathedral is the main temple of Valetta. It is rather low than tall, but has a huge area. The church was built in the middle of XVI century and then became the metropolitan cathedral of Malta. There are marble tombs of 400 knights inside the temple, including those of Grand Masters. On the enclosed court there were buried another 256 knights.

You should take a boat tour to see La-Valetta from the side of the sea. The giant dome of the Church of Holy Carmelites is one of the most recognizable views of Malta. In front of the temple there located the massive Church of St. Paul, or the Church of St. Paul's Shipwreck. It is known that St. Paul, on its way to Europe, shipwrecked off the coast of Malta, and getting to the island he began to preach Christianity there. It is one of the most important churches on Malta.

Several strong forts guard the comfortable harbour of Malta, including St. Elmo Fort lo-cated on the forefront of the peninsula. It was just this fort that first met the enemy ships and defended the approaches of Malta. These forts located on every corner of the citadel make it virtually unapproachable.

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