Car Hire in Valetta Malta
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Valetta Streets in Malta
On any holiday in Malta, a visit to the capital Valetta is an absolute must. Yet Valetta has not always been the capital; the city of Mdina was the ancient capital of Malta. However, after the Great Siege of Malta in 1565, Valetta was built as a fortress city to repel any further invasions. Despite being heavily bombed in Wold War II, the city still retains the look and feel of an elegant Renaissance city.
Valetta, Malta: Ye cursed streets of stairs
One thing Valetta is not, and that is flat! The city rises over the impressive harbour, and every street seems to be a series of steps. You'll have to park your Malta hire car and walk to see the city properly, up and down what the poet Lord Byron called "Ye cursed streets of stairs!"
Valetta was planned and built by Francesco Laparelli de Corton, who arrived in Malta in 1565. No existing city stood on the rocky headland he chose as the site, and hence Valetta is the first fully planned city in Europe.
Valetta: Parking and Walking
The best way to explore Valetta is to enter the city the way people have for centuries, through the City Gate. You can't drive in this part of Valetta, so park your car hire in Malta somewhere near the Gate, and explore on foot. From the City Gate, Republic Street runs for over a kilometre down to Fort St Elmo, and passes many of the major landmarks of the city.
Just inside the city walls is the oldest building in Valetta, the church of La Vittoria. The first stone laid to build the city lies under the alter of this 1567 church, the first in Valetta.
Valetta, Malta: Markets and Museums
If you are visiting Valetta in the morning, head for the Baroque splendour of the Auberge de Castile et Léon, where you'll be able to browse through the market stalls. Then, return to Republic Street to pass by St John's Co-Cathedral and Museum. Outside, it looks rather four-square and dull, but the interior is a riot of decoration and gold leaf. This was the church of the wealthy Order of the Knights of St John, until they were forced to leave Malta in 1798. The Museum houses the only signed work by the artist Caravaggio, "The Beheading of St John the Baptist".
Remember to have a snack before you return; it is a good walk back to your Malta rental car!