A weekend is definitely too short for Malta. This island is a treasure trove of historical sites. So if you are a history buff like me either stay longer or make a must-see list of your highlights. This is what we did while agreeing that we have to come again and see the rest at a later time. It’s really hard to choose what to visit first, but this is something that needs to be done.
I am sure Malta is different in summer time when you spend your days on the beach. But in winter you snatch up the last rays of sun and visit amongst others places full of pre-historic rocks. Nothing feels better than enjoying the sun and getting some cultural stimulation. Malta is worth your time. Yours, Pollybert
1.) National Museum of Archaeology: It’s actually the perfect place to start your visit of all cultural sites. Most artefacts are here in the museum while on site are replicas. You also get a good outline of the history of Malta; and you can see the famous ‘Sleeping Lady‘ which is tiny and 5000 years old. The museum shows also humongous females which are a bit younger. But just think about what the position of women was at that time. The bigger the statue the more influential the person!
2.) Hypogeum: this is the place where the ‘Sleeping Lady’ was found. An underground burial-place which is 5000 years old. It is a UNESCO cultural heritage place and only 70 persons per day can visit. That is ten an hour. We were lucky enough to get tickets for 9am on a Saturday and it was the last available spot for the two of us. So if you want to go there, make sure to buy your tickets well in advance online. If it is sold out you can still try buying them at the Archeological Museum in Valetta. Two tours per day are sold there the day before. What was most fascinating beside the history of the place is that it is the middle of a residential area. If there wasn’t the huge lettering outside the building, one wouldn’t know.
3.) Tarxien Temples: this Neolithic temple (there are actually more than one) is only a ten minute walk from the Hypogeum. Malta is full of these and probably has some that are better looking. But if you are pressed for time, this one is a great option. Funnily enough this one is also in the middle of a residential area. The Maltese just built around their historic sites.
4.) Marsaxlokk: of course there is water all around and you can see harbors everywhere. But this one is the only one which still has the original boats in the water. The colorful luzzus look fantastic on the blue water and make for a great backdrop for lunch.
5.) Grand Master’s Palace: The Knights of Malta lived here. And they did so like kings. The rooms were lavish and one wonders how they amassed the riches. Actually we don’t have to wonder, we know how they got rich. In any case the palace is impressive. Just a bit further is the former hospital, which was at the time unprecedented. Each person had his own bed and there was room for about 500. With luck the place is open for an event and you can take a peak inside.
6.) Lascaris War Rooms: we caught the last of the guided tours half-way through and got then an extra introduction into the WWII history of Malta. This underground headquarter was never discovered by German spies and was the main place from where the invasion of Sicily was planned. You can still see Eisenhower’s office here.
7.) The Catacombs: there are more catacombs than you would believe in Rabat. Since it was Sunday we decided on the St. Paul’s Catacombs. The area is huge and you can see about 25 graves. They range from family sized plots to bigger ones. Most of them also have a rest and “party” zone. I loved that in those times religion appeared not to make any difference in death. Christians, Jews and pagans were sometimes all put together in one catacomb. The catacombs are also right in a residential area.
8.) Mdina: car-free area that not only has the name in common with the Moroccan city. Beautiful buildings and very quiet. Especially if you walk around at 8:30 on a Sunday morning.
9. Upper and lower Barrakka Gardens: these public gardens allow you an amazing view on the harbor and the sea below. Lush and green with a fountain in the middle (the upper one) they invite you to sit down and relax.