Friday, November 14, 2014

Fun and Cultural: A Worldly Holiday in Malta

When you visit Malta, you'll be tapping in to at least seven thousand years of history. Traders and soldiers, from Phoenicians and Romans to Muslims and Crusaders, have all helped to create its character, with the influence of diverse cultures still apparent today. You'll find reminders of the past everywhere, right up to relics of World War II, when Malta played a role as a base for Allied forces.

However, it's more than just a historic location, and offers today's tourists a variety of attractions and activities. This Mediterranean archipelago is made up of Malta, Gozo and Comino. The latter, the smallest, is mostly uninhabited, with just one hotel to tempt those in search of solitude. Gozo relies on agriculture, fishing, tourism and crafts, while as the largest, Malta itself is a centre for commerce, culture and administration.

A holiday in Malta

Malta holidays guarantee you a traditional vacation experience with good weather, pretty beaches, lively nightlife, and plenty of sightseeing. Head for Comino's Blue Lagoon, a sheltered cove close to the islet of Cominotto, or try diving and snorkelling around the Azure Window, an arc in the cliffs of Gozo. Nearby is the Blue Hole, a limestone chimney that connects with the sea via an underwater arch. If you prefer to avoid potential crowds around these marvels, check out instead the collapsed cavern of Dwejra Bay, and enjoy stunning views from Qawra Tower. Cruise around Valletta, or if you're around on a Sunday, browse the busy fish market in Marsaxlokks.

St John's Co-Cathedral in Valletta, built between 1573 and 1578, boasts a couple of paintings by Caravaggio, who fled here to escape punishment in Rome, throwing himself on the mercy of the Knights of the Order of St John. In 1693, an earthquake destroyed Mdina’s Norman cathedral of St Paul's, and Lorenzo Gafa's baroque replacement features serpent and fire motifs on the two bell towers, to commemorate the saint's first miracle here. The same natural disaster felled the Cathedral of the Assumption, also rebuilt by Gafa.

Time your stay to take in one of the many festivals in arts, the baroque, opera, choirs, and July's International Jazz Festival. Music from pop to classical rocks the island, and the clubbing scene thrives. Bands are a local tradition, with each town holding an annual fiesta. Plays, performed either open-air or within the eighteenth century Manoel Theatre, are another popular diversion.

The family-friendly beaches are safe for the little ones, and there are activities for all ages. Kids will also love the Splash and Fun Park with its wave pool, tunnels, water slides, and a "lazy river" to be negotiated on a rubber tube. Malta provides spectacular scenery, quality entertainment, delicious food, and awesome history, all in an ideal climate, making it the perfect destination. And it's that's a little bit different.

Image by Beatriz Garcia, used under Creative Commons license.

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