In the last centuries, Malta has been a very agitated island and played a strategic role in international conflicts from the Middle-Ages to Modern days. In 1522, after their defeat in Rhodes against Suleyman the Magnificient to the Knights Hospitalier were left with no base. Malta and its islands were given the Order of St John by the Holy-Roman Emperor (1530). The Knights ruled over the small islands as a vassal state of Sicily, against one Falcon a year, sent annually to the Viceroy of Sicily.
Malta most memorable battle is certainly the one of 1565 known as the Grand Siege of Malta – The Three cities was then the strong place. The Ottoman Empire headed by Suleyman the Magnificent attempted to take the islands, but the invasion was repelled by only 500 men and 6000 foot-soldiers. The siege was the climax of an escalating contest between the Christian alliances and the Islamic Ottoman Empire for control of the Mediterranean. This was a huge victory for the Christian Alliance.
The Order continued to rule Malta for over two centuries, and this period was characterized by a flourishing of the arts and architecture and an overall improvement in society. Caravaggio painted there one of its ‘claro-oscuro’ Masterpiece that you can still admire today the Cathedral of St John. The Order reigned until 1798 until the French expelled them and brought disaster ruining a large part of Malta cultural heritage. The Maltese found support with the British to fight the French occupation and things went well until the WWII which brought again bombing and terror.
So, if you think you might suffer PTSD from explosive noises, Malta may not exactly be the place for you. However, if history is your thing, Malta is a fascinating
Walking by the Capital and the Three Cities massive fortifications, you will immerse yourself in the rich past and feel the immense wealth of these days.
The Saluting Battery of La Valletta (16thcentury) regularly shoot canons from the Upper Baraka Gardens, just facing Fort St. Angelo. To complete the picture, note that there are almost as many churches in the island that the number of days in the year, every house has at least two churches nearby. To us, it meant that our pontoon was lying in straight line between the large churches of Birgu and Senglea, each of them running a competition of inventive carillons and decorative lights at each feast (which are also numerous).