Valletta 2018 is about a date, a place and one eventful year. But that’s just part of the story. Valletta 2018 is a journey that starts now.
In October 2011, Valletta became a candidate European Capital of Culture (ECoC) for 2018, submitting a bid that includes all Malta. If awarded the title, Valletta 2018 will see an inspiring, exciting and innovative programme of events that pushes our capabilities and creativity. There’s much to do before we reach 2018, but it’s a journey designed to enrich us.
In 2011, Malta submitted its nomination for its capital city Valletta as a candidate for the European Capital Culture 2018. The nomination was prepared and submitted by the Valletta Local Council, on behalf of the Maltese nation. It was with great satisfaction that the title was conferred in October 2012, making this a historical moment for the Maltese Islands. Such confirmation translates to very positive news for the creative and cultural sector of Malta and is set to place Valletta under a noteworthy spotlight on the international level.
According to Alexei Dingli, Valletta’s Mayor, Valletta is a remarkable reflection of European heritage, “a canvas which lends its spaces to showcase the diverse European identity, a city which respects its past while embracing its European future in a Euro-Med context.” Valletta’s architectural riches have been compared to those of major artist cities in Europe, such as the likes of Venice, Florence and Paris. The city is dominated by a considerable cultural legacy, dating first to the Order of the Knights of St John and then enriched by the French and British who colonized the islands over the year. The city owes its origin to the Knights, who founded Valletta in 1566 and made it their seat for more than two centuries. Named after French Grand Master Jean Parisot de la Valette, it defended the islands throughout the ages and succeeded Mdina as Malta’s capital.
Valletta is also recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage site. It is, at its heart, a city of contradictions. Although it has a city status, it is very small when compared to other European capitals. It was, and is still, a European cultural centre, though at the very Southern tip of the Mediterranean and with various influences from North African and Middle Eastern Europe. Valletta’s bid to be a European City of Culture in 2018 gives contemporary meaning to age-old contradictions. “It looks not just north, but also south and east as it rekindles cultural ties with old protagonists in its history. Valletta has gone back to its future.”