What to See in Malta

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There is so much more to Malta than just sand, sea and sun, although if you have come to the islands of Malta for the beaches, you will not be disappointed as there are some excellent beaches. For those of you who are looking for a little more from their holiday we have a list of the best things to see and do on your island vacation.

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St. John's Co-Cathedral

The Cathedral was built between 1573 and 1577 by the Knights of Malta. It was designed by the Maltese architect Gerolamo Cassar, the interior of the building is mostly decorated by Mattia Preti who was a Calabrian artist and a Knight.

It contains two masterpieces by the artist Caravaggio (Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio) including a painting which depicts The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist painted in 1608.

Some of the other highlights of the church are the marble tombstones located in the nave where great Knights were buried.

Dress: When visiting the Cathedral you must be decently dressed, shawls and or wraps are available at the entrance pay desk. You cannot wear stiletto heels or narrow heals, this is to prevent damage to the intricate designs on the marble floors.

St John's Co-Cathedral Museum

Next to the cathedral is a museum called St John's Co-Cathedral Museum which contains some important works of art including the Tapestries of Grandmaster Fra Ramon Perellos de Roccaful.

There are also paintings by many great painters including the Grandmasters Fra Jean de la Cassiere, Fra Nicola Cottoner and Fra Emanuel Pinto de Fonseca, It also contains the painting of St. George killing the Dragon by Francesco Potenzano.

The Catacombs of St. Paul and St. Agatha's Crypt

The St. Paul Catacombs are named after the nearby St. Paul's Grotto and date back to the fifth century. Throughout my tour, the guides did an excellent job and both sites were well presented although probably a little less spectacular than those that you can find in Italy and France.

There are many burial troughs and your tour guide will explain the different types to you. An important thing to pint out is that you should take a guided tour as there an no signs so just looking on your own, you will miss a lot.

The catacombs are only a few minutes away from each other, both as interesting as each other although I would say unless you are a real enthusiast going to both may be a little repetitive.

National Museum of Archaeology in Malta

The National Museum of Archaeology contains an impressive collection of artifacts from the unique prehistoric periods in Malta's history which begins with the first people to arrive in the Ghar Dalam phase in 5200 BC right up to the Tarxien phase in 2500 BC.

The main hall in the museum contains temple carvings, one of the most impressive is the giant statue and altar blocks of Tarxien Temples as well as animals, temple models, and the incredible human figures including the exquisite figures of the Sleeping Lady from the Hypogeum, and the Venus of Hagar Qim.

There are also exhibits of pottery, tools of flint and obsidian, beads and other ornaments, all of which illustrate the remarkable artistic skill and sophistication of the prehistoric dwellers of the Islands of the time.

Casa Rocca Piccola

The Casa Rocca Piccola allows you a unique view into the customs and traditions of the Maltese nobility over the last four hundred years. It is still a privately owned home containing over fifty rooms, most of which you are able to see on your visit.

It should also be noted that within the house, there is also a Museum of Costume as well as the World War II Air Raid Shelters which add to the experience of visiting this great house and definitely gets a thumbs up from me as is very different to the large stately homes found in the UK.

Mnajdra Megalithic Temples

The Mnajdra complex contains three temples which overlook a oval forecourt. The oldest temple dates back to about 3600-3200 BC, with the most impressive of the temples constructed between 3150 and 2500 BC.

This temple is perhaps the finest surviving on Malta and the masonry shows intricate knowledge of building techniques and excellent workmanship.

If you plan on visiting the temples, it is important to note that in order to help stop damage to the Maltese temples by the large amount of people visiting them there are now major restrictions to the temples.

There is a large security fence which surrounds the area, this however is well placed and does not distract from the visit.

There are however a large amount of rope barriers that don't allow you to visit any of the axial passageways, which means that the intramural rooms and the apses themselves cannot be entered preventing you from seeing the true beauty of these ancient buildings.

Hagar Qim

The Temple Complex At Hagar Qim was built during the Tarxien phase, between 3000 BC and 2500 BC. It has a finely-smoothed entrance facade constructed from massive stone blocks and contains fine artifacts including the "Venus of Malta" and other female statuettes, and a four-sided altar with plant carvings.