Celebrate Your Malta Holidays, Revisit its Storied Past
There’s a lot more to Malta than sandy beaches, perfect weather and a deep blue sea. The country has a long and storied history that has led to the creation of a diverse and fascinating culture. Read this brief history about Malta while detailing a number of archaeological sites and festivals that can be enjoyed while letting you make the most out of your Malta holidays.
Malta is a small archipelago of islands located in the south of Europe. With a land mass of approximately 122 square miles, Malta is one of the smallest countries on Earth. It is also one of most densely populated countries, too, with a population of close to 500,000 people.
The Maltese Archipelago is made up of five islands: Malta, Gozo, Comino, Filfla and Kemunett. The capital city, Valletta, and the largest town, Birkirkara can both be found on the main island of Malta.
A brief history of Malta
Malta’s location in Southern Europe made it an area of great strategic importance. Many nations have fought over the Maltese Islands over the ages.
It is believed that the first settlers arrived on Malta as far back as 5200BC. These settlers lived a simple life growing food, raising families and trading with nearby Mediterranean nations.
Around 3500BC, these settlers built a number of temples to worship their deities. Many of these temples still stand today, making them some of the oldest free standing religious sites in the world. Arguably the most famous of these temples are the Ggantija temples, located on the island of Gozo. Like most of the temples of that particular era, the Ggantija temples are simple in design and made out of stone.
Around 700BC, Ancient Greek settlers made their way to Malta, settling close to the area where Valletta stands today. The Phoenicians also moved to Malta around 400BC, too. By 117AD, however, the Phoenicians and the Ancient Greeks were warded off the island as the Roman Empire took control. Malta stayed under Roman rule until the Byzantine Greeks removed the Romans from power in 395AD.
Malta stayed under Byzantine rule for almost four centuries. However, in 870AD, Arab invaders invaded Malta and fought off the Byzantines. Malta remained relatively deserted until groups of Arabs from Sicily relocated to the islands around 1050AD.
Many nations continued to fight for control of Malta over the next millennium until the country joined the British Empire in 1814. Malta stayed a part of the Empire until it achieved its independence in 1964.
Malta’s rich and storied history has led to the country developing a varied culture that draws inspiration from many different sources. Maltese music draws inspiration from Roman, Greek and Ghanese music, while Maltese literature draws from Arabian and Mediterranean influences.
Maltese architecture also draws inspiration from a number of different sources, including British architecture and Mediterranean architecture. Splashes of Roman styling can be seen next to Byzantine pillars with British flourishes. Few places in the world have as diverse an architectural style as Malta.
All those travelling to Malta to enjoy Malta holidays should include a visit to the ancient town of Mdina and the scenic town of Rabat. Both towns feature unique architecture, temples, churches and other impressive houses of worship and lets you peer into Malta’s colorful past.
The capital city Valletta is also unique in that it combines the new with the old. Modern day buildings can be found in city as can stunning, historic buildings like St John’s Co-Cathedral and the Hypogeum, a subterranean Megalithic temple dating back many centuries.
Maltese Cuisine draws inspiration from a number of Mediterranean and English influences. Bread, pastry and meat based dishes make up most of Maltese cuisine. Particularly delicacies include ‘fenkata’, stewed rabbit, and grilled pork cuts.
Maltese Festivals and Events
Festivals and events are held throughout the year in Malta. February/March sees the Valletta Carnival rolling into Malta, with parades and dance and costume competitions being held in the capital. In June, Ghanafest, a folk music festival, takes place with 3 days of traditional Maltese music being played. Other music festivals include the Malta Jazz Festival in July, the Malta Death Fest in September and the Isle of Malta Special in June, the largest free open air concert in Europe.
Other popular festivals include the Malta Arts Festival in July, a showcase of Maltese theatre, dance and musical artistry, and the Notte Bianca in September, a night long celebration in Valletta that sees many museums and historic buildings putting on exhibitions and theatre performances.
Festivals in Malta are unique due to their sheer variety and scale. They are colourful, vibrant and exciting. The local Maltese people get into the spirit of the festivals too with many going out of their way to ensure that festival goers enjoy themselves.
Malta’s long and storied history has given it a rich, fascinating culture. All visitors to Malta should set aside time to visit the country’s many historic sights and museums while on their trip.
This article was written by a Guest Author