Malta has a rich and colourful past. Its 7,000-year heritage contains traces of Roman, Moorish, French, and British influences. Moreover, the island is home to some of the oldest standing structures in the world.
Here are five historical places in Malta you cannot miss!
Mdina is an ancient walled city and was once the capital city of Malta. Full of narrow winding lanes and stunning architecture, this place is a history lover’s dream.
Must-see sites include St. Paul’s Cathedral and Palazzo Falson. You could also visit the the National Museum of Natural History, which is housed in a beautiful 18th-century palace, and enjoy views of the island from the ramparts.
2. Ggantija Temples
Gozo is the second largest island of the Maltese archipelago. It’s less developed than Malta, and had a very laidback vibe.
Ggantija Temples are of the main attractions in Gozo. These ancient structures date back to between 3600 BC and 3200 BC, which makes them older than the pyramids of Egypt!
Legend has it that the temples were erected by giants. The largest rock comes in at five metres long and weighs over 50 tonnes.
3. St Paul’s Catacombs
St. Paul’s Catacombs give visitors an insight into early Christianity in Malta.
Located in Rabat, the catacombs consist of interconnected burial chambers from the Roman period. They also contain a network of mysterious tunnels cut from the rock itself.
The catacombs cover an area of 2000 metres squared, and they were used up to the 8th centuries AD.
4. The Grandmaster’s Palace
Valletta has some of the most beautiful historical places in Malta. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is packed with Baroque palaces and churches.
The city’s star attraction is the Grandmaster’s Palace. Built between the 16th and 18th centuries, this building served as the palace of the Grand Master of the Order of St John. It is decorated with impressive frescoes and lavish tapestries.
Nowadays, the building houses the office of the President, though some of the rooms are open to the public.
5. St John’s Co-Cathedral
Another must-visit site in Valletta is the marvellous St John’s Co-Cathedral. This is a truly majestic structure and will leave you speechless before you even step foot inside.
Built by the Knights of Malta, the opulent interior bears a strong Baroque influence, with stunning ceilings and marble tombstones. Perhaps the best thing to see here is the original painting of The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist by Caravaggio, which is housed in the church oratory.
6. Hagar Qim
If you love ancient history, a trip to Hagar Qim and Mnajdra temples is a must. These impressive structures are over 5,000 years old and offer a glimpse into early civilization in Malta.
The on-site museum takes you on an immersive tour through pre-historic times in Malta and the discovery of the temples.
After exploring the temples, you can go for a beautiful walk along the coast.
7. Fort St. Angelo
Another must-see site on your Malta holiday is Fort St. Angelo. This bastioned fort in Birgu offers spectacular views of the Grand Harbour and the surrounding towns.
The fort dates back to the 13th century. In the 16th century, the Order of St. John turned the building into their headquarters.
Fort St. Angelo played an important role during the Great Siege of 1565. During the Second World War, the fort suffered several direct hits, but it has since been restored to its former glory.
8. The Hypogeum
The Hypogeum of Hal Saflieni is by far the most fascinating place in Malta. It is also one of the most unique sites in the world.
This underground burial complex was in use between 4000 and 1500 BC. Some of its rock-cut chambers feature beautiful designs in red ochre and intricate carvings. Pottery, human bones, and little carved animals were some of the objects discovered in this ancient site.
You can visit the Hypogeum on a guided tour, but you’ll need to book your tickets in advance.
Explore Malta’s history with a local guide
I must admit, I love taking tours! While some travellers might prefer to explore a place at their own pace, a guided tour can offer a more immersive experience. Plus, you get to learn more about the country and its people!
If you want to explore the Malta’s fascinating history with a guide, here are my top suggestions:
- Valletta walking tour with St. John’s Cathedral
- A self-guided tour of Mnajdra and Hagar Qim
- Mdina and Rabat Insider Tour
Do you have any questions about these famous landmarks in Malta! Ask away in the comments section below!
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