Malta, Gozo, & Comino
The Maltese Islands made up of Malta, Gozo and Comino lie at the very heart of the Mediterranean Sea just 93 km South of Sicily. This strategic geographical position has translated itself into 7,000 years of a very rich and colourful history. Most of the world’s
greatest civilisations that shaped world history have passed through or settled on the Islands for a spell, and the country’s culture and heritage bear witness to this in every way. The native language, which is Maltese, is of Semitic origin, whilst the grammar stems from Latin and Italian and English words are laced through it. English is the second official language. The Maltese Islands boast one of the highest concentrations of historic and cultural heritage per square kilometer in the world. Luckily the Islands are compact enough to offer the convenience of everything being within easy reach enabling you to make the most of your stay.
Malta’s millienia of history are quite literally etched in stone, from the ancient Hagar Qim and Mnajdra temples, to the unique underground temple and burial grounds of the Hypogeum. According to the biblical book of Acts, the Apostle Paul was shipwrecked on Malta and the country’s strong Catholic tradition continues to this day. In addition, the many beautiful architectural monuments; the legacy of various schools of architecture bear witness to this, examples of these gems may be seen in the old village cores and in the form of palaces and churches around the islands. St John’s co-Cathedral in Valletta is the jewel in the crown of Malta’s monuments. This legacy left behind by the Knights of St. John is home to two of Caravaggio’s most famous paintings. The old capital city of Mdina and the ‘new’ capital Valletta are two of the ‘must-sees’ in what is a veritable open air showcase of living history!
The Maltese Islands not only have a rich and chequered history, but are also renowned for being a fun and cosmopolitan destination. With many top-notch hotels, spas, restaurants and entertainment venues to suit all tastes and budgets, one is spoilt for choice. Eating out is a treat, not only for the quality and freshness of the food, but for the locations of
some of the restaurants with spectacular views and backdrops. Religious feasts in Malta and Gozo are colourful events mixing both the religious with the secular, to offer the visitor a unique
atmosphere to sample a taste of Malta.
Some may say that the island of Gozo is Malta’s prettier little sister, as it is greener and more rural than Malta. Just a 25 minute ferry crossing from Malta or 15 minutes by seaplane, the pace of life feels slower and though smaller, Gozo possesses an equally impressive array of historical sites, culture and things to do. The world’s oldest standing structures are to be found here. The World Heritage Site of the Ggantija Temples, the oldest standing prehistoric structure on earth dating back over 6,000 years make essential viewing and no visit would be complete without a walk to the fabled Calypso’s cave. Gozo is also favoured by rock climbers and ramblers, as its landscape offers great challenges and lovely views along the way. The sea and diving sites are none the less impressive too. And if you are a ‘foodie’, the local produce is divine. In addition, just a stone’s throw away is tiny Comino, with the glistening jewel of the Blue Lagoon and its own share of diving sites and bays to enjoy.
Text and map from brochure published by the Malta Tourism Authority, images from Google.