Small country: 7 reasons to spend a vacation in Malta
Malta has a mild Mediterranean climate, gentle sea and sun all year round. We tell you what else is famous for the archipelago in the heart of the Mediterranean.
Located between the African and Eurasian continents, Malta has always been a tasty morsel for conquerors: at one time it was dominated by the Phoenicians, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, French and English. Each nation has left its own heritage, and therefore in this tiny state with a multi-thousand-year history, as in a patchwork, different cultural, architectural and gastronomic traditions are intertwined. The total territory of the Maltese archipelago is only three hundred and a little square kilometers, but the number of historical monuments in the country is one of the first places in the world. Getting to Malta from Moscow is easy: just four hours on a direct Air Malta flight and you are there. You should start your acquaintance with the largest island of the same name, where the capital of Valletta is located. This medieval city, a UNESCO world heritage site, was founded by the knights of the order of St. Peter. Saint John in 1566 and named after the Grand master Jean Parisot De La Valletta. By the way, the 268-year rule of the powerful Ioannites, which had the strongest influence on the appearance of the country, is considered a Golden age in its history. The majestic Baroque churches, monumental palaces, fortifications and the eight — pointed Maltese cross are their achievements. Valletta is rightly called an open-air Museum city, and it fascinates with its cathedrals, multi-level houses made of beige limestone, narrow streets and high towers, and the great Harbor located here offers the most beautiful (and instagrammable!) kinds.
No less noteworthy is the former capital of the state, ancient Mdina, which has a history of more than 4,000 years. In the middle Ages, the city was home to the local aristocracy, and their descendants still live in the local magnificent palaces. Now Mdina has about 400 inhabitants, so its streets are quiet and calm. Be sure to visit the Museum of torture, which claims to be one of the most terrible in the world, as well as the Catholic Cathedral of St. Paul, built on the site where, according to legend, the first Bishop of Malta met the Apostle Paul who landed on the island after the shipwreck. The Cathedral houses several outstanding works of art: among others, Mattia Preti's painting the Conversion of Saint Paul, a 15th-century Tuscan painting, and engravings by Albrecht dürer.
The art of surprising
Walking around Valletta, you can not avoid the Cathedral of St. John. Outwardly, it is quite unremarkable, but its well-preserved interior is simply amazing: here, both Baroque interiors, and kilograms of gilding in the decoration, and scenes from the life of John the Baptist and biblical subjects by Mattio Preti are so voluminous and plausible that it seems that they are about to come to life. It's all about the unique technique of the master for the middle of the XVII century, which meant the image of characters with shadows (something like modern 3D). The works of the artist, who painted the Cathedral for 38 years, were highly appreciated: he was made a knight, and later buried right in the temple along with the Grand masters of the order (there are about 400 graves located at the base). And the most important thing that you should definitely see with your own eyes is located a little away from the main hall. In a small room in the right wing hangs a masterpiece by Caravaggio "beheading of the head of John the Baptist". The impressive size of the picture is special in that it is the only signed work of the famous artist.
The natural landscape of Malta is amazing: secluded bays and coves are adjacent to majestic cliffs and sandy beaches. In addition, the Islands are just created for active recreation and water sports — water skiing, wakeboarding, Windsurfing and, of course, diving. There are several reasons for this. First, the blue Mediterranean sea around the Maltese Islands is so clear and transparent that it allows you to see in detail the rich marine flora and fauna at a depth of up to 50 meters. Secondly, the presence of underwater caves, tunnels, grottos and sunken ships make diving much more interesting and exciting. In the rating of the best places for diving, chirkeva, anchor Bay, as well as the Blue grotto in Malta, the Inner sea on Gozo and several points off the coast of the almost uninhabited crumb Comino lead the way. Among other things, there are dozens of diving centers in Malta, where you can not only rent equipment, but also learn all the tricks of scuba diving and get a professional diver's certificate.
There is time
Thanks to the" melting pot " of gastronomic traditions of different peoples, Maltese cuisine is quite diverse and includes Arabic, English, Italian and Turkish dishes. The role of the main violin, of course, is assigned to fish and seafood, but no less important are meat delicacies. For example, Maltese people love and know how to cook a rabbit, which is stewed in wine with the addition of herbs and garlic. Another local pride is "khobza" - a flavorful bread made from several varieties of wheat with a crisp, Golden crust. You need to eat it freshly baked-the benefit of small bakeries are found in Malta literally at every step. Baking on the island is generally treated with piety: be sure to try (or bring as a souvenir) Maltese "pastizzi" — small puff pies filled with ricotta, beans or chicken. By the way, in hot weather, they are perfect for a refreshing drink "Kinney" — a local version of orange lemonade with a slight bitterness.
In all colors
For the freshest seafood, go to the village of marsashlokk, which is located in the South-Eastern part of the island. This place provides gifts of the sea almost all of Malta. Every day, more than three thousand fishermen go to the open sea on colorful boats "luzzu". On weekdays, it is quite quiet, but on Sundays there is a fish market where you can not only buy freshly caught sea bass, rock fish, grouper or, say, barabulka, but also watch the fishermen unload their catch. There is something to do here from Monday to Saturday — for example, take a walk along the embankment and admire the "eye" boats moored in the Harbor. In addition to the bright color (the same is hardly possible to find) on both sides they have drawn the most real eyes! According to an ancient legend, they are designed to help sailors ward off evil spirits and find their way through heavy fog. And there is a huge number of fish restaurants, not to look at which-just a crime! So, chef Victor-the owner of the cozy TA'victor restaurant on the Central square-personally greets guests, prepares delicious sea bass with capers and tomatoes, and while the guests are waiting for the main dish, serves as a compliment a large plate with traditional Maltese snacks: cheeses, homemade sausage, olives, vegetables and Maltese bread.
The ability of the island
Gozo-the second largest island in the archipelago-has a more measured and calm rhythm. The Maltese themselves like to run here on weekends, and some even buy houses here. A trip on a modern ferry boat, which departs every half hour from the port of Cirkewwa is only 25 minutes. According to Greek legend, it was on Gozo that the goddess Calypso, who seduced Odysseus, held him captive for seven long years. Despite the fact that Gozo is three times smaller than Malta, it is much greener and more picturesque, and thanks to the developed cattle breeding and agriculture, it produces excellent quality Maltese wines, goat cheese "jbeina", Gozitan honey and sea salt. The island offers leisurely walks and contemplation of colorful bays, caves and bays, and its heart is a Grand Citadel located on the top of a hill. Once it served as a fortified shelter from the attacks of Barbary pirates, but now on its territory with ancient streets, stairs, arches and passages, you can stop for a moment and enjoy 360-degree panoramic views of the island and surrounding area. Everyone will find entertainment to their liking on Gozo: whether it is a visit to the Opera house (there are two of them here!), a visit to the Basilica.’Pinu (a Holy place where wishes are fulfilled) or a study of a megalithic temple complex ("jgantia") that is more than six thousand years old.
Saw the night
Eight kilometers from the capital Valletta-and you are in the resort town of St. Julian's, which is considered the most Bohemian and party place in Malta. The best beaches, restaurants, casinos, shopping centers and hotels are located here. When choosing a hotel, take a look at Corinthia Hotel St. George, which is located on the Bay of St. George. Its assets include a watchtower built during the reign of the knights of Malta, several swimming pools, 11 restaurants and bars, and a Blue flag beach for its exceptional cleanliness. And from absolutely all of its rooms and suites offer wonderful views of the turquoise surface of the Mediterranean sea and a scattering of Islands on the horizon. The local Concierge staff can easily arrange any leisure activities, such as a tour of the surrounding area or a romantic dinner on a private yacht in the Harbor. Plus walking distance to Paceville, which is also called the Mecca of Maltese entertainment. The area is famous for its amazing parties and night clubs: from the world-famous Axis to the salsa bar Fuego and the posh Plush.