The Gardjola Gardens in 360°

Gardjola Gardens in Senglea’s bastions across Valletta, offer spectacular views of the Grand Harbour

The Gardjola Gardens are located in Senglea or Isla as it is known by the locals. It overlooks the bastion with fantastic panoramic views over Marsa, Valletta, Grand Harbour and Fort St. Angelo.

The gardens were planned by Grandmaster De La Sengle in 1551 with a lovely guard tower built on the tip of the bastions. The guard tower, ‘Il-gardjola’, has various symbols sculpted on in such as an eye, an ear and the crane bird, representing guardianship and observance protecting the Maltese shores.

The eye on the tower is a popular icon representing Malta, featured in many brochures about the Island. The gardens have palm trees and provide a spot to relax under the shade while enjoying the view.

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World football freestyle champion Andrew Henderson in Malta

The skills of world renowned freestyle champion Andrew Henderson marry with the unique backdrop of the Valletta Grand Harbour. This video was shot on a warm bright day from the Gardjola Gardens in Sengela (Isla) under the watchful eye of the “gardjola” tower.

The gardens were planned by Grandmaster De La Sengle in 1551 with a lovely guard tower built on the tip of the bastions. The guard tower, ‘Il-gardjola’, has various symbols sculpted on in such as an eye, an ear and the crane bird, representing guardianship and observance protecting the Maltese shores.

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How many UNESCO World Heritage Sites are there in Malta?

The Maltese Islands have three sites listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. These are the City of Valletta, the Megalithic Temples and the Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum.

In all, seven megalithic temples are found on the islands of Malta and Gozo, each the result of an individual development. The two temples of Ġgantija on the island of Gozo are notable for their gigantic Bronze Age structures. The Ġgantija Temples are the oldest, free-standing monuments in the world and are a testament to the Island’s inhabitation for at least 1,000 years before the famous Egyptian pyramids of Giza were constructed.

On the island of Malta, the temples of Ħaġar Qim, Mnajdra and Tarxien are unique architectural masterpieces, given the limited resources available to their builders. The Ta’ Ħagrat and Skorba complexes show how the tradition of temple-building was handed down in Malta. These temples were inscribed on the World Heritage List as a group and represent a unique architectural tradition that flourished on the Maltese Islands between 3600 and 2500 B.C.

The Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum is a rock-cut underground complex that was used both as a sanctuary as well as for burial purposes by the temple builders. It was discovered during construction works in 1902. The three underground levels date from around 3600 to 2400 B.C. The monument is considered one of the essential prehistoric monuments in the world.

The capital of Malta, Valletta, is inextricably linked to the history of the military and charitable Order of St John of Jerusalem. Built after the Great Siege of 1565 and named after Grandmaster Jean Parisot de la Valette, this fortified city has hundreds of monuments, all within a relatively small space, making it one of the most concentrated historic areas in the world.

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The Maltese Cross

The Maltese Cross was officially adopted by the Order of the Knights Hospitallers of St. John in 1126. Its eight points denote the eight obligations of the knights, namely “to live in truth, have faith, repent one’s sins, give proof of humility, love justice, be merciful, be sincere and whole-hearted, and to endure persecution”. With time, the eight points also came to represent the eight “langues” (national groupings) of the noblemen who were admitted into the brotherhood, namely those of Auvergne, Provence, France, Aragon, Castille and Portugal, Italy, Baviere (Germany), and England (with Scotland and Ireland).

To this very day, the Maltese Cross remains the symbol of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta.

WWII tunnels open to public

The World War II  tunnels beneath the Upper Barrakka in Malta’s Capital city, Valletta will be open to the public for the first time in years.

The tunnels that hosted a major strategic centre for the British forces during the war, have undergone restoration works. The works have returned to the public both the area that serrved as war headquarters and the interconnecting tunnels leading to the war-room.

While the winding underground passages were dug back in 1556, they were first used as strategic planning posts by the British in 1939. The dark, damp rooms include several corporal dormitories and even one used by the commander of the Royal Air Force.

Of Churches and Chapels

The Maltese are among the oldest Christians in the world and you can find an amazing 365 churches on the islands – a very high number for such a small space. Many are dedicated to St Paul, who was shipwrecked in Malta in 60 AD, and St John.

St John’s Co-Cathedral is a gem of Baroque art and architecture and boasts the stupendous painting by Caravaggio called The Beheading of St John. The dome of the Mosta Church is the fourth largest in the world. It is famous because, during WWII, a bomb pierced the dome and fell to the Church floor without exploding – saving the lives of those parishioners present.

The ornate Mdina Cathedral contains magnificent works by Mattia Preti, while pilgrims and any curious tourist should visit the Ta’ Pinu Basilica, which famous for supposedly saving Gozo from the plague and now home to hundreds of mementoes from grateful worshippers.

[WATCH] Aerial Tour of Fort Rinella and the Grand Harbour, Valletta

Fort Rinella was one of four 100-ton gun batteries built in Malta and Gibraltar for the protection of the harbours. These forts became necessary with the building of two powerful Italian battleships; the Duilio and Dandalo, both armed with four 100-ton guns each in revolving turrets. At the time, Britain used the Mediterranean as a quick route to India and it was feared that the growing naval power of Italy might tip the balance of power in the region.

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Music – Miss You – Winter Moods ft. Joseph Calleja

TripAdvisor awards Heritage Malta sites

Four Heritage Malta sites have received a Certificate of Excellence for 2013 by TripAdvisor, the world’s largest travel site.

The National War Museum, the National Museum of Archaeology, the Inquisitor’s Palace and the Grandmaster’s Palace (which includes both the State Rooms and the Palace Armoury) have received the award which is given only to establishments that consistently achieve outstanding traveller reviews on TripAdvisor.

As stated in the official website, “Winners of the Certificate of Excellence are located all over the world and represent the upper echelon of businesses listed on the website, with only the top 10 percent receiving the prestigious award. This means that these four Heritage Malta sites have constantly featured as top attractions by those who visited them.

To qualify for the Certificate of Excellence, organisations must maintain an overall rating of four or higher, out of a possible five, as reviewed by travellers on TripAdvisor. Additional criteria include the volume of reviews received within the last 12 months of the year in question.

Of Knights and Inquisitors

In the heart of Vittoriosa, Malta, the Inquisitor’s Palace is one of the very few surviving palaces of its kind which, in the early modern period could be found all over Europe and South America. Many of these palaces simply succumbed to the ravages of time or were victims of the anti-reactionary power unleashed by the French Revolution. Fortunately, the Maltese Inquisitor’s Palace, throughout its 5 centuries of history, always hosted high-ranking officials representing the main powers on the islands, who therefore ensured its survival.

Monsignor Pietro Dusina arrived in Malta in 1574 as the first general inquisitor and apostolic delegate of the Maltese Islands. The Grand Master offered him the unused palace as an official residence. Almost all successive inquisitors sought to transform the palace into a decent mansion. They all shared the same cultural values of clerical baroque Roman society, and by the mid-18th century they had managed successfully to transform the building into a typical Roman palace. The palace also managed to survive through the bombings of the Second World War and the threat of modern development.

It is today the only Inquisitor’s Place open to the public in the world and an architectural gem, representative of the chequered history and European heritage of the Maltese islands.

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The Inquisitor’s Place in Villoriosa is one of the very few surviving palaces of it’s kind, and the only one accessible to the general public.

The Heritage Multisite Pass is a convenient way to visit this and other heritage sites around the Islands.

Street Hawkers in Maltese Villages

Many countries showcase their street vendors and markets, but few are those places that enjoy the level of service that Maltese street villages do.

One of the most traditional retailers on the Maltese islands is the street hawker. Not the type that sits in the same corner all morning waiting for customers to walk by, but driving high and low through the village streets, offering a service almost on your doorstep.

Many years before take-away’s started delivering junk food, the Maltese street hawker would canvas the village announcing his or her arrival usually with a high-pitched offer that rarely changed from one generation to the other. Up to this day you can easily purchase fresh bread, vegetables, fish, and even kerosene (heating oil) by timing your preferred street hawker who daily visits the same streets like clockwork.

A few decades ago you could have even stopped the shepherd down your alley and ask for a pint of fresh goat’s milk, right from the goat; or have your knives and scissors sharpened by the “sinnar”.

Although supermarkets have taken away business from the small village corner shops, making most of them unsustainable, the same phenomenon did not effect – at least as drastically – the street hawkers bringing their fresh produce to our homes.

[alerts title=”Hit LIKE to read our Recommendation…” type=”info”][like-gate]A truck honking down the street does not mean an angry driver, but it is usually the street hawker who has replaced their high-pitched call with the horn of their truck.[/like-gate][/alerts]