Valletta is Malta's Fortress of Solitude
People love to invade Malta. The Mediterranean island nation, situated between Sicily and Tunisia, counts among its unwelcome guests the Romans, the Ottomans, Napoleon and, in the early 20th century, hundreds of Russian aristocrats fleeing the fall of the czarist autocracy. For the most part, the Maltese were having none of this. Napoleon was forced out after just two years, and the Knights of Malta — effectively, and against all odds — defeated the Ottoman Empire’s much larger forces. In Valletta, Malta’s capital, people still bring up the Great Siege with enormous pride, boasting about it as if they had actually been there.
For all of Valletta’s interest in the past — the city is a Unesco World Heritage Site, and the 16th-century Saint John’s Co-Cathedral in the center of town has been magnificently preserved — it has become in recent years a vibrant cultural destination, with an appeal that is both historic and modern. The area’s Baroque architecture now houses boutique hotels instead of knights in armor, while none other than Renzo Piano has refurbished the parliament and historic city gate.
From “Malta’s Emerging Capital by the Sea” by Gisela Williams for the New York Times Style Magazine; Photo by Luis Diaz Diaz
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