As we entered the Valetta harbor we were looking at a well-fortified city with walls several stories high. Jorge and Ellen wondered how many steps we would need to climb to reach the top.
Fortunately there was an elevator to the top of the walled city. What a view of the harbor from terrace of the upper Barrakka Gardens! Valetta is a relatively modern city from the 1500’s. No Greek or Roman ruins are in sight. From our guide we learned about the role the Knights of Malta played in building the fortified walls. Later the city was built by the Knights to help care for the sick. All the walls slope inward from the ground to the top making it almost impossible to attack. We walked through the Barrakka Gardens opening into large squares surrounded by impressive buildings including the cathedral and government buildings. Malta had been an English colony for more than 199 years and gained its independence from England in 1964. There were statues celebrating independence as well as one of Queen Victoria. Yes, they drive on the wrong side of the road!
All Malta cities have band houses. They were started for school age children to learn to play instruments and to keep them off the streets during school vacation time.
We toured the Casa Rocca Piccolo. It was built by a nobleman of the Knights of Malta in the 16th century. The current Baron from the original family sill lives in the palace. It was a combination of extremely ornate salons and smaller cozier ones. While we were resting in the courtyard garden enjoying a caged birds and a few cats, Francine stopped to speak with a humble gentleman standing by a doorway. He was the current Baron!
Back at the ship the sister of Daphne Caruana Galizia was our guest speaker. Daphne was the Maltese investigative reporter who had been murdered for exposing government corruption and money laundering that extended internationally. The Maltese government has yet to recognize the extensive corruption nor Daphne’s murder for her role in exposing corruption. A family foundation is still actively denouncing the cover-up of Daphne’s murder and hoping for justice.
This was our last night on the Artemis. Boo-hoo! Jorge and Ellen were lucky to sit at the Captain’s table for dinner. He was a very entertaining and thoroughly delightful host.