Malta is not all beaches and hedonistic fun. Take time out on your travels there to pop into some of the many historic sights.
Take the Mosta Church for example.
Malta wasn’t at all prepared for the Second World War. She had no aircraft but British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain said, “this is a time to show strength, not weakness.” Aircraft pilots were not trained or ready for battle.
In January 1941, the Luftwaffe (the German air force) came to Malta on bombing missions from Sicily and then in November they started using Stukas (dive bombers). In order to win the air battle, Malta needed Spitfires. Forty-seven had flown in on 20th April but they were monitored on radar and bombed as soon as they landed. In what became known as the “glorious 10th of May,” sixty-three German aircraft were damaged or destroyed.
During the Second World War, Malta was the most bombed place on earth. More than 14,000 bombs were dropped, destroying about 30,000 buildings but Malta still fought on. More than 1,500 civilians were killed in Malta during the Second World War.
However, the devout Maltese Catholics, were convinced Malta wouldn’t fall to the enemy. In 1942 a bomb fell right down through the roof of Mosta church. This was one of the biggest churches and reputedly there were over 250 people attending a service at that time. No one was killed and this was considered as a miracle.
A replica bomb is now in the church.
The George Cross
On April 15th, 1942, King George V1 awarded Malta for bravery during the Second World War. King George wrote a letter saying:
The Governor of Malta
To honour her brave people I award the George Cross to the Island Fortress of Malta to bear witness to a heroism and devotion that will long be famous in history.
The George Cross is made of silver and is shaped as a cross. In the centre is a circle with St George riding his horse to find the dragon. Round the circle are the words “For Gallantry” . At the back of the George Cross s engraved “To the Island of Malta, 15 April 1942”
Here’s some more pics from the island of Gozo:
The tiny island of Gozo is home to 50,000 inhabitants with a number that swells considerably during the sumer months as tourists swamp the beaches and entertainment spots.
Gozo can be reached via a ferry from the northernmost point of the main island, Malta and takes about 30 minutes to make the crossing – cars can be taken as well. The ferry runs regularly through the day.
Malta. Middle of the Mediterranean Sea. Occupied for hundreds of years by marauding Ottoman Turks, Crusaders, the British – you name it, some country you know has probably made an attempt at conquering the cluster of three islands – Malta, Gozo and Comino.
Malta is not a destination that you think of when contemplating a holiday in Europe, it cetainly does not stack up against the glamour of Paris or St Tropez. However, do yourself a favour, try Malta.
The main island (Malta), home to 450,000 Maltese and many more annual tourists, is easily accessible via low cost airlines such as Ryanair and the national flag carrier, Air Malta. Sea ferries call regularly from Sicily (about an hours sail). Gozo, the larger of the other two islands is home to another 50,000 Maltese and boasts several beautiful beaches; Comino is the other island and very sparsely populated with limited facilities.
It’s on the main island, however, where the action is. The architecture draws heavily on its Arabic/Turkish Ottoman origins liberally sprinkled with the influences of a few hundred years of British rule. English is widely spoken.
The beaches are beautiful, the road system adequate and a excellent bus service circumnavigates the island. There are countless hotels – ancient and modern, as well as other types of hostels. Restaurants abound. However, if it is history that you’re after, then Malta is the spot. Walking through the streets and in the ancient towns, not to mention the stunningly beautiful Churches, is like paging through world history. Everything is kept neat and tidy and the Maltese take great pride in their islands.
We stayed at the ultra modern Radisson Blu resort complex on Grand Bay in the north-west corner of the island, where your every whim is catered for, or you do your own catering, buying produce at the well stocked local supermarkets and shops. Valetta is a bustling capital city with its narrow lanes and historic buildings echoing the Knights of the Order of St John, to whom Malta owes so much.
If 5-star resorts are not your back, there are literally thousands of backpacker, B&Bs and budget hotels on offer ringing the many bays with beautiful beaches.
Take a stop over in Malta – you won’t be disappointed.