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.

 

A view of the massive exterior of the Mosta Church

 

The Mosta Church

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 theenemy. 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.

 

A replica of the bomb

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”

A magnificent altar inside the Mosta Church

 

Part of the magnificent interior – the bomb hole is high up n the ceiling

 

Religious artefacts abound

 

Handpainted frescoes

 

 

 

Vegetables on the move – supermarkets are not plentiful in Malta, shopping is ‘old fashioned’.

 

One of the many small harbours that dot the Maltese coastline

 

Unique rock formations

 

Beach side holiday resort in Gozo

 

Thousand of years of changing tides have created these rock formations

Here’s some more pics from the island of Gozo:

 

Seemingly an island amongst the fields, this Church cuts an impressive sight

 

Madame sprinted off the topless bus and snapped the inside

 

The Maltese are an industrious nation and till the soil relentlessly

 

Beautiful floral displays on all the public roads

 

 

A classic aquaduct

 

Not only is space at a premium all over the islands, but on the transport too!

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.

The ferry noses out towards Gozo

 

You pass the third of the Maltese island – Comino

 

One of the beautiful Churches on the Gozo island

 

Narrow streets abound throughout the village

 

With space at a premium this wheat field has been sown between the buildings

 

When the British settled in Malta during the 18th Century, they started to close in the balconies with glass and wood, protecting the houses from the elements.

The Maltese really like to decorate their roundabouts – here’s one on the island of Gozo

 

History confronts you at every turn – here’s an ancient aquaduct on the island of Gozo

 

 

Part of the access way to the Grand Harbour in Valetta

 

A cute little statue we came across in a fishing village

 

Something quirky – there are some smattering of third world enterprises throughout the island. This tyre service is just one of the many!

In Malta, you will find some of the most stunningly beautiful Churches in the world. Many have large, decorated domes like these.

 

The Order of the Knights of St John were based in Malta for manny years as they waged war on the Crusades. Their influence is felt throughout Malta, not only in magnificent buildings, palazzos, and decorative pieces but also in innovations such as well organised and staffed hospitals

 

A view of the main ward of the Valetta hospital built by the Knights of St John. Each enclave you see on the side, was for a bed.

 

The Knights of St John left these prayers and eulogies all over their buildings. Here is one from the Hospital

A wonderful panorama of the Grand Harbour of Valetta – one of the many ancient forts which abound on the island guards the entrance

 

An atmospheric doorway in the ancient walled ton of Medina, a few kilometres from Valetta.

 

A courtyard in Medina, on the left is a restaurant attached to a 5-star hotel. Now, there they serve a mean hamburger!

 

The entrance to the hotel. A Relais and Chateau establishment. From the first floor, you can have a wonderful view of the Grand Harbour and surrounding countryside

Colourful fishing boats lie at anchor. The Maltese love to beautify their vessels with all kinds of paints, believing that this will give them luck and plentiful fish.

 

Each Maltese boat carries a painting a little eye – the Goddess of the Sea, protecting the boat and the sailors from harm

 

You wouldn’t say that Malta is one of the gastronomic capitals of the world, however, they are proud folk and every dish is served with pride.

 

 

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.

 

Fishing boats in one of the many little harbour which ring the island

 

 

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.

 

Typical Medina architecture in the old town

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.

 

A view of Gozo harbour as you enter

 

 

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.

The Grand Harbour of Malta in Valetta, the capital of the main island

 

 

Take a stop over in Malta – you won’t be disappointed.

 

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