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Nestled in the heart of the Mediterranean Sea, lies the island of Malta. In actual fact Malta is an archipelago made up of several islands, the three main islands being Malta, Gozo and Comino. It’s easy to see why Malta is so appealing to its visitors. With almost year round sunshine, rugged honeycombed landscape, magnificent architecture and history, Malta really has a lot to offer visitors to its shores.
Malta is truly Mediterranean but with its own unique charm. There is a lot to see and do here but some of the most impressive sights are tied to its history. Having been invaded several times over the centuries Malta’s history is as fascinating as the island itself. Many cultures have left their mark on this tiny island over the years. Phoenicians, Arabs, French and British have all made their own contributions to the islands and least we forget the famous Knights of Malta who were responsible for transforming this island into what it is today. The Malta of today has embraced this history and has incorporated it beautifully into the metropolitan Malta that of today.
Maltese people are some of the friendliest you will meet anywhere in the world and their social and religious traditions are still as prominent today as they were many years ago. Religious festas in Malta are still the highlight of every village on these islands and are a source of pride for its inhabitants. The language of the Maltese people is Malti which is a Semitic language that first began with the Phoenicians of Malta’s ancient past. Through the influence of British rule English also became one of Malta’s primary languages and it is not unusual to find a large number of Italian speakers too given Malta’s proximity to Italy.
What really makes this island so popular for holidays in Malta is of course its wonderful climate and range of attractions. From a historic point of view Malta’s architectural wonders are some of the best to be found anywhere in the world. Wandering through the fortified cities of Valletta and Mdina really gives you a sense of what Malta’s all about. Its magnificent churches such as St. John’s Co Cathedral in Valletta, St Paul’s in Mdina and Ta Pinu in Gozo are amazing and most definitely worth a visit. Another side of Malta’s past is the pre-historic sites scattered throughout the islands, the most popular being Hagar Qim, Tarxien, Hal Saflieni and Mnajdra in Malta and the famous Ggantija temple in Gozo.
Another of Malta’s highlights is the many museums. As you know Malta played a major role in World War II and this is reflected and honoured in its history. Malta strategic position in the Mediterranean made it a target for many invasions over the centuries. However none more so than during the second World War. Due to the resilience of the Maltese people during this period Malta was awarded the George Cross by King George VI in 1942. Much of this period of Malta’s history can be seen in some of the museums within Malta. Two of the main museums to visit would be the National War Museum in Valletta and the Malta Aviation Museum in Ta Qali. Both will provide you with a sense of what life was like for the Maltese during World War II.
Of course you chould not forgetting the other attractions of this small Mediterranean gem. Malta also has a thriving film industry and many blockbuster movies have been filmed here including Midnight Express, Gladiator, Troy and parts of the movie Munich to name just a few. Another interesting movie that was made here was Popeye which starred Robin Williams. The Popeye Village (Sweethaven) located in Anchor Bay still stands today and is a major attraction on the island. Other family attractions include the Splash & Fun water park and the Mediterraneo Marine Mark which is great for kids of all ages. Being an island Malta is also host to many water sporting activities including Scuba Diving, Snorkelling, Windsurfing etc to name but a few. For the more relaxing individual then a stroll along the Sliema promenade on a Maltese evening taking in the sights, sounds and aromas of the fine Maltese cuisine is simply perfection.
The islands of Malta are a definite experience that should be enjoyed slowly. Discover the unique character and beauty of this wonderful Mediterranean gem and you will keep returning for more.