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Valletta is Malta's capital. It was built by the Knights of St. John. They arrived in Malta in 1530. After defeating Grand Turk Suleiman, Pope Pius V and King Philip of Spain gave financial aid to the Knights to build the fortress city of Valletta. It is now a World Heritage City. The scene coming into port through the harbor was spectacular. Valletta is a walled city with huge stone walls and bastions along the water.

We took a half day tour to visit the old medieval capital of Mdina. The city is perched on a hill with views of the sea and Valletta and fortified by huge Arab-built walls. We wandered through the narrow, winding streets (designed to confuse invaders) looking at the elaborately decorated aristocratic residences and Baroque style buildings which were constructed by the Knights of St. John in the 18th century. We visited St. John's Cathedral, home to the Archbishop of Malta.

After our walk through Mdina, we drove to Ta'Quali, a handicraft village built on a former British Air Force base. We stopped in a few of the shops and got demos of glass blowing and filigree making.

Our last stop was to the town of Mosta and a visit to the Mosta Dome Church. It has the 3rd largest unsupported dome in the world. It is quite beautiful inside with inlaid marble floor and gilded carved stone flowers set around the dome. It holds up to 10,000 worshippers at a time. A German bomb entered the church through the dome during WWII and landed in the middle of the church. Miraculously it did not detonate and none of the 300 people attending the service were hurt.

To view more photos from Malta, please go to Malta Photo Gallery. To read about the next location visited, go to Valencia, Spain.




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