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What to do in Malta: 5 tips that will help you decide

Malta
Photo taken by Flickr | Berit Watkin.  Malta

Malta is an archipelago perfect for those seeking a special holiday. Situated between Africa and Europe, the island lures visitors with its seafood, beaches and sunny days. In Malta, every stone has its own history, Valletta's architecture is simply intoxicating, and there are many more secrets to be found for those who look. Here are five tips for those travelling to Malta.

1. Malta's knightly heritage

Saint John's Co-Cathedral
Photo taken by Flickr - ro431977.  Saint John's Co-Cathedral

St. John's Co-Cathedral is the main church of Maltese knights and considered one of the most outstanding examples of Baroque architecture in Europe. The church was founded along with the knights' citadel and the fortified city itself around the year 1570. The rich knights had every patch of the church covered with gold, marble or paint, and after the last restoration, the impressive church glows brighter than ever.

St. John's knights started to build the fortified city after having almost lost the entire island to the Ottomans in 1565. The city's fort was so impenetrable that no one managed to encroach for about 200 years. The remaining walls of the old town are impressive even today, and you can visit everything on foot, or even book a tour on a boat and see the beautiful architecture from the sea. The boats depart from Valletta's large harbour, which was important in the times of the knights and during the Second World War.

2. Malta and war

Valletta Harbour
Photo taken by wikimedia | Henry M. Trotter.  Valletta Harbour

Malta has always been at the centre of wars and bouts. It won't come as a surprise, then, that both Valletta's architecture and infrastructure were constructed with defense especially in consideration. There's also an excellent war museum in the city where you can visit an underground hideout from the Second World War. Because of its strategic location, and also being a harbour, Malta was heavily bombarded during times of war, so the inhabitants had to keep safe underground. The hand-dug tunnels, kerosene lamps and guide's intriguing stories will help you feel a real wartime atmosphere. There are hidden war rooms, where the British and Allied powers planned their disembarking in Sicily, which are also definitely worth a visit.

3. Prehistoric heritage

Video
Video by Sammy.  Malta Catacombs

Malta is famous for not only its modern modern and medieval heritage – there is also a prehistoric burial complex carved into the rocks, which was made by the same people who built unique temples here between the years 3600 and 2500 BC. Both thee temples and the necropolis are protected by UNESCO as world heritage sites. For reasons of preservation, only ten people are allowed into the caves at a time, so if you want to visit, it's best to book as much in advance as you can. The whole complex consists of three floors, with many rooms on each. It is thought that at the site once housed over 7,000 human bodies.

These Maltese temples are considered some of the oldest constructions in the world – they're much older than, for example, Stonehenge, and they're much more sophisticated in their construction –

they contain many rooms, floors, a roof, monumental doors, stone furniture and sculptures. Be sure to read about their history before heading there.

4. Mdina

Mdina
Photo taken by wikimedia | R Muscat.  Mdina

The first Maltese capital Mdina dates back to the Bronze Age, and was a Roman centre in Malta. The building of the the city as we know it today was started by Arabs, and later medieval Christians. Today it‘s literally like an open air museum. The perhaps second-most impressive church stands here, which used to be the main one of the island until the emergence of Valletta. You can see some wonderful artifacts here: silver and wooden handicrafts, swords and scripts. During the day, Mdina is packed with tourists, so it‘s worth returning in the evening, when it has emptied and the fresh sea breeze has freshened the city up.

5. Diving

Scuba diving in Malta
Photo taken by Flickr | prilfish.  Scuba diving in Malta

Malta has some of the best diving in the whole of the Mediterranean. The whole country is full of diving centres, which teach even beginners to dive, and offer experienced divers an unforgettable experience of diving in its fantastic sea. Although you won‘t see as much sea life here as in the Red Sea, crannies, cliffs and views around the island are truly exceptional. Day-long diving trips to the islands Gozo and Comino are also possible.

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