St. John's Co-Cathedral and the city walls
|ISO 3166 code||MT-60|
|Patron saints||St. Dominic|
Our Lady of Mount Carmel
|Day of festa||3 August|
|Official name||City of Valletta|
|Criteria||Cultural: i, vi|
|Inscription||1980 (4th Session)|
Valletta (//, Maltese: il-Belt Valletta, Maltese pronunciation: [vɐˈlːɛtːɐ]) is an administrative unit and the capital of Malta. Located on the main island, between Marsamxett Harbour to the west and the Grand Harbour to the east, its population within administrative limits in 2014 was 6,444. According to the data from 2020 by Eurostat, the Functional Urban Area and metropolitan region covered the whole island and has a population of 480,134. Valletta is the southernmost capital of Europe,[note 1] and at just 0.61 square kilometres (0.24 sq mi), it is the European Union's smallest capital city.
Valletta's 16th-century buildings were constructed by the
The peninsula was previously called Xagħret Mewwija (Mu' awiya – Meuia; named during the Arab period) or Ħal Newwija. Mewwija refers to a sheltered place. Some authors state that the extreme end of the peninsula was known as Xebb ir-Ras (Sheb point), of which name origins from the lighthouse on site. A family which surely owned land became known as Sceberras, now a Maltese surname as Sciberras. At one point the entire peninsula became known as Sceberras.
Recent scholarly studies have however shown that the Xeberras phrase is of Punic origin and means 'the headland' and 'the middle peninsula' as it actually is.
Order of Saint John
The building of a city on the Sciberras Peninsula had been proposed by the Order of Saint John as early as 1524. Back then, the only building on the peninsula was a small watchtower dedicated to Erasmus of Formia (Saint Elmo), which had been built in 1488.
In the Great Siege of 1565, Fort Saint Elmo fell to the Ottomans, but the Order eventually won the siege with the help of Sicilian reinforcements. The victorious Grand Master, Jean de Valette, immediately set out to build a new fortified city on the Sciberras Peninsula to fortify the Order's position in Malta and bind the Knights to the island. The city took his name and was called La Valletta.
The Grand Master asked the European kings and princes for help, receiving a lot of assistance due to the increased fame of the Order after their victory in the Great Siege.
In his book Dell'Istoria della Sacra Religione et Illustrissima Militia di San Giovanni Gierosolimitano (English: The History of the Sacred Religion and Illustrious Militia of St John of Jerusalem), written between 1594 and 1602, Giacomo Bosio writes that when the cornerstone of Valletta was placed, a group of Maltese elders said: "Iegi zimen en fel wardia col sceber raba iesue uquie" (Which in modern Maltese reads, "Jiġi żmien li fil-Wardija [l-Għolja Sciberras] kull xiber raba' jiswa uqija", and in English, "There will come a time when every piece of land on Sciberras Hill will be worth its weight in gold").
De Valette died from a stroke on 21 August 1568 at age 74 and never saw the completion of his city. Originally interred in the church of Our Lady of the Victories, his remains now rest in
Francesco Laparelli was the city's principal designer and his plan departed from medieval Maltese architecture, which exhibited irregular winding streets and alleys. He designed the new city on a rectangular grid plan, and without any collacchio (an area restricted for important buildings). The streets were designed to be wide and straight, beginning centrally from the City Gate and ending at Fort Saint Elmo (which was rebuilt) overlooking the Mediterranean; certain bastions were built 47 metres (154 ft) high. His assistant was the Maltese architect Girolamo Cassar, who later oversaw the construction of the city himself after Laparelli's death in 1570.
The city of Valletta was mostly completed by the early 1570s, and it became the capital on 18 March 1571 when Grand Master
In Antoine de Paule's reign, it was decided to build more fortifications to protect Valletta, and these were named the Floriana Lines after the architect who designed them, Pietro Paolo Floriani of Macerata. During António Manoel de Vilhena's reign, a town began to form between the walls of Valletta and the Floriana Lines, and this evolved from a suburb of Valletta to Floriana, a town in its own right.
In 1634, a
In 1775, during the reign of
French occupation and British rule
In 1798, the French invaded the island and expelled the Order. After the Maltese rebelled, French troops continued to occupy Valletta and the surrounding harbour area, until they capitulated to the British in September 1800. In the early 19th century, the British Civil Commissioner, Henry Pigot, agreed to demolish the majority of the city's fortifications. The demolition was again proposed in the 1870s and 1880s, but it was never carried out and the fortifications have survived largely intact.
Eventually building projects in Valletta resumed under British rule. These projects included widening gates, demolishing and rebuilding structures, widening newer houses over the years, and installing civic projects. The
In 1939, Valletta was abandoned as the headquarters of the
Valletta harbour c. 1850, photo by Calvert Jones
King's Gate c. 1884–1905
Royal Opera House in 1911
Bomb damage in Valletta during theSecond World War
The entire city of Valletta has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1980, along with
Detail of the Parliament House (2015)
Mediterranean Conference Centre, former Sacra Infermeria (2016)
Renovated Tritons' Fountain (2018)
Renovated covered market Is-Suq tal-Belt, 2018
The Valletta Local Council was established by the Local Councils Act of 1993, along with the other local councils of Malta. The first election was held on 20 November 1993. Other elections were held in 1996, 1999, 2002, 2005, 2008, 2013, 2017. The present local council was elected in 2019. The local council is housed in a building in South Street.
The following people have served as Mayors of Valletta:
- Hector Bruno (1993–1999) (PN)
- Paul Borg Olivier (1999–2008) (PN)
- Alexei Dingli (2008–2019) (PN) 
- Christian Micallef (2019) (PN) 
- Alfred Zammit (2019–) (PL) 
Valletta is the capital city of Malta,
The Valletta peninsula has two natural harbours, Marsamxett and the Grand Harbour. The Grand Harbour is Malta's major port, with unloading quays at nearby Marsa. A cruise-liner terminal is located along the old seawall of the Valletta Waterfront that Portuguese Grandmaster Manuel Pinto da Fonseca built.
Valletta features a Mediterranean climate (Köppen Csa) with very mild, wet winters and warm to hot, slightly long, dry summers, with an average annual temperature above 23 °C (73 °F) during the day and 16 °C (61 °F). Valletta experiences a lack of precipitation during the summer months and most of the precipitation happens during the winter months. Winter temperatures are moderated by the surrounding sea, as a result, the city has very mild winters and a long seasonal lag. The official climate recording station in Malta is at Luqa Airport, which is a few miles inland from Valletta. Average high temperatures range from around 16 °C (61 °F) in January to about 32 °C (90 °F) in August, while average low temperatures range from around 10 °C (50 °F) in January to 23 °C (73 °F) in August.
|Climate data for Malta (Luqa Airport in the suburbs of Valletta, 1991–2020)|
|Average high °C (°F)||15.7
|Daily mean °C (°F)||12.9
|Average low °C (°F)||10.1
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||79.3
|Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm)||10.0||8.2||6.1||3.8||1.5||0.8||0.0||1.0||4.3||6.6||8.7||10.0||61|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||169.3||178.1||227.2||253.8||309.7||336.9||376.7||352.2||270.0||223.8||195.0||161.2||3,054|
|Source: Meteo Climate, MaltaWeather.com (sun data)|
The architecture of Valletta's
Buildings of historic importance include
Valletta contains a number of unofficial neighbourhoods, including:
- Strada Rjali – the main thoroughfare, Triq ir-Repubblika
- l-Arċipierku – an area close to the
- il-Baviera – an area around the English Curtain, bounded by Old Bakery, Archbishop, Marsamxett and St. Sebastian Streets. It is named after Auberge de Bavière.
- il-Biċċerija – an area close to il-Baviera, named after the slaughterhouse which was formerly located there.
- il-Kamrata – an area close to the Sacra Infermeria. It is named after the Camerata, a spiritual retreat which was demolished in the 19th century and replaced by social housing.
- Deux Balles (Maltese: Duwi Balli) – an area close to il-Baviera. The name probably originates from the French occupation.
- il-Fossa – an area close to the Jews' Sally Port and Fort Saint Elmo. It is regarded as the worst maintained area of Valletta.
- Manderaggio (Maltese: il-Mandraġġ) – an area behind Manderaggio Curtain, bounded by St. Mark, St. Lucia, St. Patrick and Marsamxett Streets. This was meant to be a small harbour (mandracchio) but it was never completed, and a slum area developed instead. The slums were demolished in the 1950s and were rebuilt as housing estates.
Eurostat estimates the labour force in 2015 for the greater Valletta area at around 91,000 people. This corresponds to a share of just under 50 percent of Malta. As in Malta as a whole, tourism is an important economic sector. The most important tourist zone is the area surrounding the Grand Harbour. For the cruise industry, after several years of planning, work began in 2002 to build the Valletta Waterfront Project, a cruise terminal, in the Grand Harbour. There is also a publishing house in Valletta, Allied Newspapers Ltd., a media company. This company publishes the two market-leading newspapers, Times of Malta and The Sunday Times of Malta.
Valletta was designated
Saint James Cavalier
Saint James Cavalier, originally a raised gun platform, was converted into a Centre of Creativity in the year 2000 as part of Malta's Millennium Project. It now houses a small theatre, a cinema, music rooms and art galleries. Various exhibitions are regularly held there. It has welcomed over a million visitors since opening.
The Valletta International Baroque Festival is held every year in January. Jazz music in Malta was introduced in the Strait Street area, frequented by Allied sailors during both World Wars. Malta's Jazz Festival took place here. Strait Street is also known as The Gut. This area is undergoing a programme of regeneration. The city's dual band clubs are the "King's Own Band Club" (Maltese: L-Għaqda Mużikali King's Own) and "La Valette National Philharmonic Society" (Maltese: Is-Soċjetà Filarmonika Nazzjonali La Valette).
Valletta is the scene of the Maltese Carnival, held in February leading up to Lent. In 1823 the Valletta carnival was the scene of a human crush tragedy in which at least 110 boys perished. Suffocation of one hundred and ten boys. Extract of a private letter from Malta, of 21 February 1823. The Maltese Carnival is held every year. It is used without carnival trucks at 2020 and 2021 due to Covid, Carnival Trucks returned in 2022.
- The feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel is celebrated on 16 July
- Saint Paul's feast is celebrated on 10 February
- Saint Dominic's feast is celebrated in Valletta on 4 August or before
- The feast of Saint Augustine is celebrated on the third Sunday after Easter
- The city's residents also conduct an annual procession in honour of St. Rita
In Literature and the Arts
- The poetical illustrations "Valetta, Capital of Malta". (painted by T. C. Dibden, engraved by J. Tingle) and "Strada St. Ursola,—Malta". (painted by Samuel Prout, engraved by J, Carter) by Letitia Elizabeth Landon were both published in Fisher's Drawing Room Scrap Book, 1837. A further poem Jesuits in Procession—Valetta, Malta. illustrates a painting of the procession in the Strada St Giovanni painted by Samuel Prout and engraved by E. Challis is in Fisher's Drawing Room Scrap Book, 1838.
Twin towns – sister cities
Malta's public transport system, which uses buses, operates mostly on routes to or from Valletta, with their central terminus just outside the city gate. Traffic within the city itself is restricted, with some principal roads being completely pedestrian areas. In 2006, a park and ride system was implemented in order to increase the availability of parking spaces in the city. People can leave their vehicles in a nearby Floriana car park and transfer to a van for the rest of the trip.
In 2007, a congestion pricing scheme was implemented to reduce long-term parking and traffic while promoting business in the city. An ANPR-based automated system takes photos of vehicles as they enter and exit the charging zone and vehicle owners are billed according to the duration of their stay.
Valletta is served by a fleet of electric taxis which transport riders from 10 points in Valletta to any destination in the city.
- Valletta F.C. Association Football team and Futsal team
- Valletta Lions RFC Rugby Football Union team
- Valletta's Marsamxett Harbour a "Regatta" (Rowing) Team, which takes part in the annual traditional Regatta on Victory Day (8 September).
- Valletta United W.P.C., a Water Polo Club hailing from Marsamxett side
- Valletta V.C., a Volleyball club.
- Marsamxett Boċċi, a ''Boċċi'' Club from Marsamxett, Valletta.
- Valletta St. Paul's Boċċi, a ''Boċċi'' Club from L-Arċipierku side, Valletta.
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- Valletta Local Council
- Valletta Living History
- Valletta, Malta's capital city and UNESCO World Heritage Site
- Old maps of Valletta from the Eran Laor Cartographic Collection, The National Library of Israel