Today we sailed into the port of the city of Valletta on the island of Malta.
The inhabited islands of the Maltese archipelago consist of Malta, Gozo and Comino. Malta is the largest of the three.
It is 57 miles south of Sicily and 180 miles east of Tunisia in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea. The island has no mountains, rivers or lakes. Most of the 370,000 population live around Valletta and the two harbours on the either side.
After purchasing our tickets for the Malta open deck sightseeing bus we started the journey through the narrow streets of Valletta. The audio guide provided a good narrative on the history of Valletta and the island. Our tour took us to the south side of the island where we hopped off at the fishing village of Marsaxlokk.
Steven’s office today was sitting at the outside table of a seaside café, sipping on a cool drink in the warm sun.
We spent a couple of hours in this village enjoying the local souvenir markets and watching the local fisherman mending their fishing nets and repairing and painting their boats, which were painted in lively yellow, reds and blues.
The bus drive back took us via the limestone cliffs on the Mediterranean Sea, the breeze now turning chilly.
Back in Valletta we headed up the stone stairs into the city which was only coming back to life after the 3 hour lunch break.
We walked into the square in time to see the changing of the guards at the Grand Masters Palace where the George Cross plaque is displayed on the entrance wall to the Palace. After Trish spent some time exploring the stores we boarded the ship to await the sail away from Malta.
In 60 AD St Paul was shipwrecked bringing Christianity to the island. The apostle is the patron saint of Malta. We spent some time in the St Pauls Shipwreck Church dedicated to this event (no photos allowed) and where an arm bone of St Paul and a piece of the column where he was executed is kept on display.
Malta has been invaded and ruled by many countries over the centuries including the Romans. In 1530 the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V, gave Malta to the religious military order of the Knights of St John of Jerusalem. In 1798, Napoleon and his French forces captured Malta from the Knights. The British became involved and in 1800 the French departed.
Finally, the Maltese asked to be under British Sovereignty and protection in 1800, Malta formally became British. The British developed Malta as an important naval base and therefore came under constant attack by air and sea from German and Italian forces during the war. The local Maltese people endured incredible hardships and their heroic defence led to Malta being awarded the George Cross, Britain’s highest civilian decoration. In 1964 Malta became an independent state.
On to Port Said…………..
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