Tag Archives: malta

10 Archaeological Wonders of Malta

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The Maltese Islands, floating in the deep sapphire waters of the Mediterranean Sea south of Sicily, are a treasure-trove of history. Over the 3 islands—Malta, Gozo, and Comino—lies a wealth of prehistoric ruins, cathedrals, palaces, catacombs, ancient temples and more to make the history buff squeal with delight. The capital of Valletta is in of itself an exquisite seaport—and much more lies beyond!

WIT Travel Agent Pam traveled to Malta last year and absolutely loved it. Did you catch her feedback? We created a report of her trip so you could get a firsthand taste of Malta. And don’t forget to check out her photos in the Gallery!

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1. Ħaġar Qim

This prehistoric megalithic site dates back to around 3600 b.c.e.! Declared a UNESCO site, with 7-meter megaliths weighing around 20 tons each, the ancient site was obscured until its discovery in 1839. Here a number of feminine idols were found, including a nude Venus of Malta. 

2. Mnajdra

A short 500 meters from Hagar Qim, Mnajdra is another megalithic site with different temples that date back to 3600-2200 b.c.e. Visitors to the site can witness firsthand developing architecture during the Ggantija Phase, the Maltese Bronze Age. The chief attraction of the Mnajdra temples is the Solstices and Equinoxes doorway, which marks the first day of each season.

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3. Ħal-Saflieni Hypogeum

The Hypogeum is a multi-level underground crypt that dates to around 4000 b.c.e. A UNESCO archaeology site, it’s a complex series of catacombs and. Connected chambers. At the center is the chamber of Holy of Holies, and is an amazing state of preservation, with beautiful carvings and paintings in red ochre. Open to the public, but tickets must be reserved well in advance as there’s a limit of 10 visitors every hour. Artifacts from the site can be seen at the National Museum of Archaeology in Valletta.

4. Tarxien Temples

The ruins of four temples, recounting the story of a once-glorious civilization among the dilapidated columns, statues, altars and reliefs. The site expands over 5400 square meters and is an impressed display of Late Neolithic art from the time period between 3600-2500 b.c.e. The Tarxien Temples archaeology site within easy walking distance of Hal Saflieni Hypogeum.

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5. St. Paul’s Catacombs

This ancient Roman underground cemetery complex is a delight to behold. Dating back to the 4th-century c.e., it is comprised of labyrinthine passages and tombs over an area of 2000 square meters. When the Saracens took over in the 9th century, the site was abandoned and made inaccessible until its excavation in 1894.

6. Fort St. Angelo

This medieval fort is a marvelous bastioned fort and castle built during the medieval ages. As it stretches out over the peninsula, it’s an ideal location for panoramic views of the harbor and surrounding seas.

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7. Saint John’s Co-Cathedral

This elegant cathedral was built by the Order of St. John in the 16th-century. Dedicated to Saint John the Baptist, it’s truly a gem of Baroque architecture. The Knights of St. John wanted to rival the great churches of Rome and commissioned art and decorations from grand masters from France, Spain and Italy.

8. Casa Rocca Piccola

This gorgeous 16th-c baroque palace was once home to a noble Maltese family. Another relic from the Knights of St. John, the palace boasts over 50 rooms, Malta’s the largest private collection of antique costumes, two libraries, a chapel and stables. It was called La casa con giardino, the house with a garden, as typically Valletta houses were not allowed. 

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9. Rotunda of Mosta

The 17th-century Catholic Church is a marvel of neoclassical architecture, dedicated to the Assumption of Mary. Designed to rival the Pantheon in Rome, with Ionic columns, two bell towers and an ornamental circular dome. In 1942, a German aerial bomb fell on the church during mass but didn’t explode—a true miracle to the onlookers. A replica of the bomb is on display to visitors.

10. Inquisitor’s Palace

Colloquially known as tal-Inkisitur, the palace was the seat of the Maltese Inquisition from 1574 to 1798. Originally intended to be a courthouse, it was renovated over the centuries to become the elegant and stunning architectural gem of today. It is the only palace of its kind in the world that’s open to the general public.

Thinking of Malta? Why not book a Mediterranean Cruise? Ask our Willamette Intl Travel agents to curate a trip that’s perfectly tailored to you and your family’s needs and budget. 

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Agent Trip Report: Malta!

2016-03-08 13.41.37WIT Agent Pam embarked on a unique trip to Malta this past March. We shared some of her photos with our readers, but wanted to make sure you got a chance to read her report, too!

So we’ve converted it into an easy-to-read format: Read it Here

Check out more photos over in our Gallery.

We’re anticipating a lot more of our Trip Reports in this magazine format–so stay tuned!

Call us up to plan your trip to Europe and beyond! Call 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com. 

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Where the World is our WIT Agent? — Malta!

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On the lookout for sybaritic spas, exciting watersports, sumptuous boutique hotels and romantic vistas? Look no further than Malta. Situated in the heart of the Mediterranean Sea, Malta is a luxurious destination, a rich blend of cultures, languages, and ancient & medieval ruins.

You may have heard that this week WIT Agent Pam is checking out the stunning islands of Malta! Stay tuned for her photos and feedback.

Let us plan your idyllic Mediterranean trip for you and your loved ones! We’re receiving more and more inquiries of Malta lately. A 2-week trip to Italy including Malta and/or Sicily is a fantastic experience–call us to learn more. 

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Hypogeum

Archaeology and architecture in particular are famous in Malta, and the most iconic of structures is the Hypogeum (3600-2500 bce), a UNESCO-site and labyrinth of underground chambers, which served as both a burial site and a temple.

Our clients the Vigelands and the Kehoes (among others) both went a couple years ago and gave amazing feedback. We included the Vigelands’ trip report in one of our newsletters. They stayed at the beautiful Hilton which features gorgeous views.

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From the Vigelands’ desk:

“It was time to go to Mdina. So, we got another taxi for the approximately 30 minute ride there. Mdina is a walled city and Molly had told us that the Xara Palace inside the city would be the perfect place for Ted’s birthday. Mdina traces back more than 4,000 years. It has the nickname of the “silent city” but on this weekend…it wasn’t silent. We were in for a treat as they were having their Medieval Mdina Festival. We had to walk our luggage into the hotel as there was an “invasion” going on – a mock battle. All very fun and truly festive. We dropped off our bags and joined in the festivities and walked around the city. This is a totally unique place and is an absolute must….even when there isn’t a festival…

“Lunch was fish right out of the bay in front of Ron’s Restaurant in the Marsacala Fishing Village. This was our first look, from our window, at the beautifully colored and authentic Malta fishing boats. Ron brought by the fresh fish and I had the scorpion fish, a first, and it was fabulous. As with many locations on this trip the fish were brought to the table, selected, and then cooked according to our preferences. Since it was Sunday the major farmer’s market was in full swing just below the window where we sat. We explored it once we finished. Then off to the Blue Grotto for a Luzzu Boat Ride. A definite must. The water is so blue and the vistas amazing.

“Earlier we had stopped by Pilot’s (our driver’s) home and met his wife. She then joined us for a beer after we finished our boat ride. Then we headed to the Hagar Qim Temples. These are beautiful temples built about the same time as the Hypogeum with beautiful views of the sea. (They predate the Egyptian pyramids and Stonehenge.)”

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Photos Courtesy of Visit Malta.

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Where in the World is the WIT Agent? — Malta!


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Guess what? WIT Agent Pam has flown over to Malta for the week–she’s staying in Valletta and checking out various day trips and excursions to some great UNESCO sites. We’re excited to see her pics and hear her tales of this fascinating archipelago!

In the meantime, let’s check out this little country in the middle of the Mediterranean:

Just the facts, sir:
Association with the Maltese Falcon: None
Capital: Valletta
Official Languages: Maltese (a blend of Arabic and other influences) and English

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Comprising of just three islands, the Republic of Malta lies a mere 50 miles south of Italy and 176 miles east of Tunisia. This unique position smack-dab between Europe and Africa has contributed to its melting-pot status throughout the centuries. At various points in its history, Malta has been the strategic base for the Phoenicians, Romans, Carthaginians, Byzantines, Arabs, Normans, Sicilians, Spanish, Knights of St. John, French and British–phew!

The famous Knights of Malta were awarded the islands by Emperor Charles V of Sicily in 1530. They established several famous citadels and cathedrals, which you can explore in all their magnificence still today. After their two centuries of rule came Britain and France–and independence was finally achieved in 1964.

Malta’s three islands are called Malta, Gozo and Comino, and the eponymous main island only measures 95 square miles. Interestingly, Valetta’s streets were designed in a grate pattern, meaning that summer breezes bounce off the medieval walls, which is especially cooling during the hot months. Long known as a destination for sun and sea, the islands receive a whopping 300+ sunny days a year!

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So What makes Malta a stunning place to visit?

Its gorgeous heritage–embodied by ornate baroque churches, hilltop citadels and impressive megalithic temples–offers much to even the most weathered of travelers. The charming landscape, with limestone cliffs and sparkling seas, are also attractive. Diving, windsurfing, and sailing are among the more popular activities. Spend your first few nights on Malta exploring the rich architecture, then make your way to Gozo for watersports and idle relaxation.

Did you know? The Calypso Cave in Malta is said to be the cave where Homer’s Calypso from The Odyssey is said to have dwelled.

More on Malta in the coming weeks! Stay tuned!

WIT has booked several clients on recent trips to Malta. Call us at 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com to find out more about these intriguing isles. 

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