We spent our first Saturday in Malta in the capital city Valletta. After a hot and crowded 20 minute bus ride, it was a huge relief to finally enter the colorful and historic city. In Valetta, they celebrate the shipwreck of Saint Paul in February, so we were immediately surrounded by colorful banners, live music, and busy streets.
Our first stop was at a film called “The Malta Experience” which explained the vast history of Malta. We learned of the many empires that once had control over Malta, including the Romans, the Ottomans, and eventually the British. Due to all of these different influences and its location between Africa, Europe, and the Middle East, Malta is a very unique place. The language has strong roots in Arabic, Spanish, and Italian. Their buildings show influences from both Eastern and Western Europe as well as Northern Africa. The cuisine is heavily influenced by Italy rather than other Mediterranean countries. As midwesterners, we were taken aback by the history and culture that such a small place can hold.
After the film, we were able to tour the knight’s hospital which was in use from the 1700s to the early 1900s. We learned about the medical practices of the time such as the healing powers of sea salt and honey in dealing with wound infection. We were surprised to learn that the hospital was repurposed as a horse stable in the mid 1900s until it was declared a historical site. The area now holds receptions, a large performance theatre, and hosts tours of the building frequently.
Following our tour of the hospital we were set free to explore the city. We walked down cobblestone streets, enjoyed Italian food out in the sun, and had some of the best gelato we had ever tasted. We spent the afternoon admiring the palaces, grand churches, and forts—which we will be visiting as part of our “History of Malta” class.
At the end of the day in Valletta, we rode the ferry back to the other side of the island. We ended the day with a beautiful view of Valletta from the sea. We cannot wait for our next trip back to the beautiful area!
Thanks for joining us on our adventures!
Guest writers: Ella Fackel and Cecelia Mitchell