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Valletta is the capital city of Malta and located in the south-east of the island. Its population is about 7 000. Valletta is the southernmost capital of Europe and also its smallest.
Valletta’s 16th-century buildings were constructed by the Knights Hospitaller. The city is Baroque in character with elements of neo-classical and modern architecture. The second world war left major scars on the city, particularly the destruction of the Royal Opera House.
The city’s fortifications, consisting of bastions, along with the beauty of its Baroque palaces, gardens and churches has often led to Valletta being cited for its beauty.
The building of a city on this location was proposed by the Order of Saint John as early as 1524. Back then, the only building on the peninsula was a small watchtower built in 1488. The foundation stone of the city was laid by Grand Master de Valette on 28 March 1566 and the city was almost complete by the early 1570s and it became the capital on 18 March 1571.
The entire city of Valletta has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1980, along with Megalithic Temples of Malta and the Hypogeum of Ħal-Saflieni. Valletta has been selected as the European Capital of Culture for 2018.
The architecture of Valletta’s streets and piazzas ranges from mid-16th century Baroque to Modernism. The city is the island’s principal cultural centre and has a unique collection of churches, palaces and museums and act as one of the city’s main visitor attractions. When Benjamin Disraeli visited the city in 1830, he described it as “a city of palaces “.
Buildings of historic importance include St John’s Co-Cathedral and has the only signed work and largest painting by Caravaggio. The Auberge de Castille et Leon is now the office of the Prime Minister of Malta. The Grandmaster’s Palace was built between 1571 and 1574 and now houses the offices of the President of Malta.
The National Museum of Fine Arts is a Rococo palace dating back to the late 1570s. The Manoel Theatre was constructed in 1731 and is one of the oldest working theatres in Europe. The Mediterranean Conference Centre was formerly the Sacra Infermeria built in 1574 and it was one of Europe’s most renowned hospitals during the Renaissance. Many other historic buildings are to be found around Valletta, making it Malta’s premier tourist attraction.
Patron saints are St. Dominic, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, St. Paul and St. Augustine. Days of festas held are 3 August and 10 February.