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As every Muslim should visit Mecca at least once in his lifetime, every fan of the history of medieval knights should visit Malta at least once. So we are flying to Malta.
The islands, collectively known as the Maltese Islands, are a storehouse of information and enjoyment for any fan of history. Not only the oldest buildings of the world—the Prehistoric Temples of Malta—are located here. You will also find here the well-preserved medieval city Mdina, "City of Silence," and the younger, but still old, Valletta, which was built after the invasion of the Turks called here The Great Siege.
Mgarr. Gozo Island. Malta.
The oldest buildings of the world, one of the Prehistoric Temples of Malta. Ggantia Temple.
The view of the Church of Saint John the Baptist, Xewkija, from the Ggantia Temple. Gozo island, Malta.
Only the lazy have not tried to conquer tiny Malta: Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Greeks, Romans, and even Normans have been here. Templar Knights settled here in the XII century. What was so attractive to all of them? After all, in 1530, when the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V offered Malta to the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, they visited the island and told their superiors that it is a bare rock in the sea which has nothing at all. However, the knights agreed to find a new homeland here after the loss of Palestine by the Christian world. Both the Order and the people of Malta benefited from that decision.
After fending off the invasion of Suleiman the Magnificent, it became clear that the Order needed to build stronger fortifications, because this attack would not be the last. Italian architect Francesco Laparelli had the opportunity—every architect’s dream—to draw a city on paper first and then build it from the beginning and by all the rules. He did it in five years with the generous assistance of the Christian world. Now it is the great city of Valletta, the capital of Malta, named in honor of the Master of the Order Jean Parisot de la Valette.
Fort St. Angelo.
With the development of Valletta the busy life in the former capital of Malta, Mdina, began to subside. Earlier, it was called the city of aristocrats; now it increasingly turned into a dwelling place of the nobility, something like an elite “cottage settlement” far away from the hustle and bustle of the capital. This silence gives it a special charm—Silent City. Time has stopped here.
St. Paul's Cathedral. Mdina, Malta.
Restaurant Ciappetti in Mdina
Of course, these are just a few of attractions of Malta and Gozo, a neighboring island, and I’ll write a special blog post about them, but today I’d like to speak about one thing that I accidentally realized only recently.
If you are American or British, you can stop reading right here. :-)