Malta is an island for all seasons, with its capital city of Valletta being one of the greatest tourist attractions of the Mediterranean. A visit here is imperative in order to appreciate the outstanding history of this little island and be prepared to be surprised by its dimension and beauty. You need to caress it with your eyes, stroll along its straight streets, pausing to appreciate a balcony, a beautiful staircase a courtyard encircled by arched passageways or a magnificent fountain. You can then go to Upper Barracca Gardens and sight the Grand Harbour.
The island’s old capital, Mdina, is considered to be one of the most stunning examples of an inhabited medieval citadel in Europe. Its labyrinth of narrow winding streets, stunned with churches and palaces is breathtaking. The cathedral of St.Peter and St.Paul with its beautiful baroque façade, certainly merit a visit.
The traditional face of St.Julian’s is Spinola Bay, an appealing fishing harbour full of picturesque fishing boats is considered as one of the most photographed places in Malta. Behind here lies the modern quarter of Paceville the island’s nightlife centre, chock-full with bars, restaurants and discos, with music blaring from every direction. Whilst Paceville attracts a largely young and lively crowd, there are quieter and more discerning establishments around its border, where you can have a drink and enjoy authentic Maltese cooking.
Malta is an adventure-land, tailor made for those who enjoy the challenge of something innovative. If not opting for total relaxation, you can sail, dive or enjoy water sport almost throughout the whole year. Besides, you can also play golf, climb, hike or try paragliding.
Many visitors wrongly presume that Gozo is just an extension of its larger sister, Malta. Though its villages are built from the same honey-colours limestone, Gozo has a completely different ambience. Gozo’s capital, Victoria lies approximately in the centre of the island and a visit to its historic citadel is a must. The fishing villages of Marsalforn and Xlendi, set around eye-catching bays, has developed as the focal resort for tourists.
Diving and swimming are excellent in the deep blue waters around Gozo’s coastline. There are also good walks both along the coast and inland, passing by family farms and farmhouses where one could enjoy historical sites, forts and remarkable panoramas. Some of the most picturesque scenery of all the Maltese islands can be found in Gozo- there's always something to discover, whatever the season. Gozo is not meant for rushing around, but for relaxing at its peaceful bays, sipping a coffee or a beer at its local bars and cafes, or enjoying a traditional meal at its pleasant restaurants.
Comino is worth a visit all year round. Comino is the best site for those who love the sea and all manner of water sports, walkers and photographers. This small island is completely given over to the pleasures of swimming, diving and surfing and to relaxation by its crystal clear waters where even younger children can swim safely. The Blue Lagoon is not just a magnificent place for swimming but one of the most striking sites of the Maltese islands. There are no cars, no noise – the rocky landscape is dotted with patches of wild flowers and scented thyme. It is even better to stay the night, because after sunset or early morning you will have Comino to yourself.
Malta, Gozo and their history
Because of the similarities in the designs on pottery ware, archaeologists believe that the first inhabitants of the islands must have come from Sicily. The prehistory of the Maltese islands started round about 4000 BC, but it is from the period classified as the Copper Age that we have the richest and most spectacular heritage of the local prehistoric era.
During that phase we witness the development of the Temple Culture, a name which was coined as a result of the substantial number of impressive megalithic temples erected in honour of a deity referred to as the Fat Lady.
Statuettes of this fertility goddess, in whose forms the temples were probably constructed, were also found throughout countries in the Mediterranean region.
The marvellous artistry and stone-masonry with which these temples were built bear witness to the devotion which the early Maltese had to their protective Goddess.
The huge upright rocks (weighing tons!) which constitute the Ggantija temples in Gozo together with the minute carving on the decorative slabs at Tarxien and Hagar Qim reflect the dedication with which these prehistoric ancestors adorned their places of worship.
Yet the Hypogeum in Paola remains the most astonishing site of the temple builders.
Discovered by accident in 1902, the excavation works were carried out by Malta’s leading archaeologist, Sir Themistocles Zammit. Using only flint and rock tools (some of which were unearthed during the excavations) the Neolitihic people dug an underground temple in live rock, a construction which was later used as a burial place.
Perhaps the so-called “cart-ruts” are the strangest legacy from those misty, prehistoric times. Dispersed in various places in Malta and Gozo, these mysterious lines or designs have puzzled archaeologists and scientists alike. People have offered all sorts of explanations ranging from tracks formed by primitive forms of animal-driven machinery to signs from extra-terrestrial culture!
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