I’ve lived on the island of Malta my whole life. That’s over two decades, which is a pretty long time if you ask me. Throughout this time, I’ve learnt a lot on my country: the language, the history, the mysteries, the good, the bad and the plain jaw-dropping amazing. This post is a quick overview and guide on my home country, and ultimately why it’s the most beautiful gem in Europe, if not the world.
So grab yourselves a glass of wine (perhaps Maltese-grown Merlot?), or a cup of tea, sit back in your chairs and enjoy the journey…
Let’s start from the big picture: grab a rotating globe, or an Atlas, a World Map on paper… or, well, search on Google Maps (for you modern tech-heads out there). Now, focus on Europe… zone into the Mediterranean Sea… See the several spots south of Sicily, north-east of Tunisia?
That’s Malta, and its islands, Gozo and Comino, wedged in the middle.
Often I get asked “Where would that be?” after I tell people where I’m from, or they’d remark something like “Ah, so you’re a Malteser!” Believe me, as the self-proclaimed chocoholic I am, I wish I was. But no, we’re actually called Maltese, without the ‘r’ in the end. Like it’s okay, I get it, I practically live on a dot, almost in the middle of nowhere. Even the zoomed-in map of my country looks smaller than the average island in the Mediterranean, let alone a country in Europe.
Well, where to start in this department…? Apart from having THREE of the oldest registered Prehistoric temples in the WORLD, the THIRD largest unsupported dome in the WORLD (capital letters because I’m a proud Maltese citizen), and being mentioned in the Bible as the island St Paul’s Shipwreck took place in, in the year 60 A.D, two of the most important events in Maltese history were the Great Siege in 1565 and our contribution in WW2.
The Great Siege is the fight between the Ottoman Empire, who wanted to invade Malta, and the Knights Hospitaller, who at the time held the country. The Grand Master at the time, Jean Parisot de la Valette—already of an old age—built the city of Valletta, which would eventually become our capital city, which it is to date. The commemoration of this event is on September 8th, known as Victory Day.
Another important event in Maltese history is our contribution in WW2. The island’s location made it the cherry on top in what is a military base—central, close to every port in the Mediterranean. Malta may have ended the war with the distinction of being the only entire population to be awarded the ‘George Cross’, Britain’s highest civilian honour for bravery (which is also found on our Maltese flag). But the war had its consequence: Malta holds the record for the heaviest, sustained bombing attack.
Our main languages are Maltese (obviously) and English. However, we watch Italian TV so most of us may know little, if not a lot, of Italian. We can also choose to learn it, along with French, German and Spanish. The Maltese language is quite complicated to learn, but beautiful to learn ABOUT.
In older times, Maltese didn’t exist. Maltese came to be after we learned to speak Arabic (thanks to the Siculo Arabics of Sicily), English (because we were a British colony for a while), and Italian. The mixture of these languages results the Maltese language. In fact we have a lot of words directly taken from these languages.
The majority of our lifestyle is quite Mediterranean and European. We still have our traditions – the Cockaigne during Carnival, lace making in Gozo, feasts celebrating localities’ saints, Bocce, folk music, traditional foods, etc.
Recently we have also started celebrating foreign feasts, most notably St Patrick’s and Halloween.
This will probably be my favourite part to write… Scratch probably, because it will DEFINITELY be it!
Despite being a small country with limited space, there is just as much to see:
The Prehistoric Temples
Mdina (The Silent City), Malta’s former capital city
The Three Cities (Bormla, Vittoriosa, Isla)
The beaches (especially during Summer, as it’s the PERFECT moment to take a dip!)
Night Clubs in Paceville, the heart of the Maltese nightlife
Shopping complexes such as Tigne Point (Sliema) and Baystreet (St Julians)
Numerous restaurants specialising in traditional Maltese cuisine
… and so so much more!
These facts speak for themselves: Malta is a small gem with an even bigger heart, coloured brightly with history, traditions, tourist attractions, and much more.
If you’re a fellow traveller like myself and want to have an unforgettable experience, then Malta is the place for you. The best airline? Well, Air Malta of course! Visit their website to book your flight. Great staff, great service and an equally great experience, guaranteed.