As you would expect from an island with such a dominant position it has attracted an endless stream of visitors, some unwanted, over the centuries but now welcomes the modern day tourist with welcome arms and the promise of a fantastic holiday whatever the season.
With 7000 years of history Malta has a host of worthy sites and buildings to see ranging from some of the oldest standing buildings in the world through Medieval houses, Baroque Palaces and Renaissance Cathedrals. As ownership of many islands in the Mediterranean changed hands during ancient times, Malta too was subjected to a series of rulers, invaders, exiles and benefactors. This sequence of changes has left a rich variety of remains and relics that are available to see to today. More recently Malta played a huge part in the 2nd World War when the British Navy was based here and the island was subjected to long periods of artillery bombardment. This British influence can still be seen today in the form of the cast iron red pillar boxes of which there are still over 160 on Malta and are listed as national monuments and also the British red telephone box albeit now adorned with a modern telephone company’s logo.
To get a feel of how Malta was during the times of earlier invaders there is a regular pageant entitled Alarme, the re-enactment of the skirmishes between the Maltese military and Napoleon’s troops from the period 1798-1800. Taking place on the third Sunday of February, March, April, May, June, Oct and November this dramatises the arrival of the French, the Maltese rebellion and then the subsequent arrival of the British troops. Organised by the Maltese Tourist board, this spectacular event can be seen in the authentic surroundings of Fort St Elmo.
Malta also promotes a number of other festivals, many smaller ones in the local villages but also the more international Malta Jazz Festival in July, the Malta Tattoo, the Malta Fireworks Festival in April and a series of music concerts.
Reflecting its history, weather and fantastic location Malta has been frequently used recently by the movie industry for filming and in fact quite an industry has built up over the last twenty years to provide services for this. Some of the films that used Malta for shooting include the original Casino Royale, The Da Vinci Code, Troy and Gladiator starring Russell Crow, which included scenes shot at Fort Ricasoli.
The capital, Valletta, is a interesting city with the hustle and bustle of modern life set in narrow roads of ancient buildings, churches and cathedrals. A visit to and tour of the old port is essential for every visitor. In contrast, the old city of Mdina is a peaceful and relaxed place set in the middle of the island with its honey coloured limestone buildings magnificent under the blue skies a great reminder of the island’s past.
Of course Malta is not just about its interesting past and magnificent buildings, it also has typical Mediterranean weather ideal for the traveller who wants a relaxing beach holiday in a destination that is not too far from home. You are never far from sandy beaches, rocky coves, and a variety of restaurants with cuisines reflecting the island’s past multicultural residents, good hotels and nightlife ensuring that all tastes are catered for.
Malta’s climate is generally mild and fine all year round, the hotter summer months pleasantly tempered some what by the sea breezes and the winter months being mild although sea temperatures can drop during November-February making swimming a bracing activity.
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