Category Archives: Towns
Recently, we had a museum-hopping weekend. On Saturday, we visited The Inquisitor’s Palace which included the jail and the torture chambers (my, they were nasty people!) and The Malta Maritime Museum which is quite rich with artifacts, ship models, and actual boats. Given Malta’s strategic location in the Mediterranean, she has a very full maritime history as you can imagine.
The highlight of the weekend was the trip to Palazzo Falson on Sunday. The Palazzo is in the old walled city of Mdina which is a beautiful “silent city”. Mdina was the capital of Malta prior to the building of Valletta. As there are no cars and very little foot traffic, it has the nickname of “the silent city”. It is peaceful, quiet, and beautiful with high walls and magnificent views. It is the highest point in Malta and you can see the entire island from the walls.
The Palazzo was a private mansion owned by a collector which has been turned into a museum. The collections are vast and amazing for one single owner – art, artifacts, silver, Oriental rugs, weapons, medals, books, jewelry, he even had a very old chastity belt on display (it was appropriately included in the armory as it sure looks like a nasty weapon!). The rooms are decorated just like they were when he lived there.
We ended the day with an incredible meal in Mdina at a restaurant called Sharma – Arabian and Indian food, and a beautiful ambiance. The cuisines & restaurant décor are inspired from the ancient spice trading between India, through the Middle East leading to North Africa & the Mediterranean.
This is where different cultures influenced each other’s cuisines and customs until they became as we know them today.
The restaurant is housed in Casa Magazzini, an antique building used by the knights as stores for their ammunition. There is a large terrace with a wonderful view from the top of the bastions, this will be in operation as part of the restaurant from later on in 2012, although you can still go on the terrace now to enjoy the view.
The 2 ½ weeks long Malta Arts Festival followed by 3 days of The Malta Jazz Festival were high-points for Tony and me this month which was otherwise dominated by the oppressive summer heat. Something was happening everyday including theater, art exhibitions, dance, concerts, recitals, demonstrations in dramatic composition, and master classes in performance training and movement. We attended three events—the first was a dance performance titled Old Salt: (A) Portrait of Seamen, it was like a play without words. www.rubber-bodies.com
The evening program took place outside at the Grand Harbour, with twinkling harbor lights and boats gliding slowly by adding to the ambience. Tony and I sat and watched the beautiful and haunting story of four women left behind by their men who went to sea. The dancers wore masks and costumes, and there was a fish who was a messenger, bringing the women notes from the sea. At times, the fish actually got into the water! About 15 – 20 feet above the stage was a platform which was built to resemble the skeleton of a ship—the ship’s ribs—and on it played a string quartet. It was so beautiful.
(My next post will be about the concert and jazz festival we attended so stay tuned.)
Dinner on Saturday night was fabulous!! We went to a restaurant called La Mere which serves Arabian, Indian, Mediterranean, and Maltese food. I wanted to try Arabian as I’d never had it before. I had this amazing dish called Shwarma Dajaj – chicken marinated in lemon, paprika, and Arabian spices. I loved it! And the salad had broken up toasted pita in it and was very tangy. With hummus and potatoes. Here is the link to see the restaurant and the link for the menu – the Arabian food is at the back of the menu.
It was very cozy, only 7 tables. It would have been quite intimate except that while we were dining, 2 large tables of 8 people each came in and it got so noisy we could hardly hear each other. Tony had vindaloo which is his favorite (see picture on the left) and one of our friends had the spicy chicken, chorizo and chickpea tagine (my second choice) and the tagine that it was served in was beautiful (see picture above right). And we had a lovely Lebanese red wine, the name of which I can’t recall.
The restaurant is in Valletta, the capital of Malta, an old walled city built by the Knights after the Ottoman’s Siege of Malta in 1565. Yes, I said the Knights — like of the round table! Anyway, the Maltese liked the Ottomans even less than they did the Knights, so they fought alongside the Knights to conquer the Ottomans. After the siege, the Knights, still feeling vulnerable, built the beautiful walled city with its cobblestone streets, narrow alleyways with houses, and amazing views of the harbor and the sea and named it after the Grand Master La Vallette, the leader of the siege.
PS – look under the category “Towns” on this site to read more about Valletta.
The Malta International Fireworks Festival is an annual event organised by the Parliamentary Secretariat for Tourism and the Malta Tourism Authority.
The Grand Harbour provides the perfect setting for this spectacular event, which takes place on April 29th and 30th. The festival includes fireworks displays designed by foreign pyrotechnic companies as well as some of the best local fireworks factories.
Everyone is invited to attend and enjoy the spectacle free of charge. The best locations for viewing the displays are Ta’ Liesse / Barriera Wharf, Valletta.
The festival also serves to commemorate Malta’s accession into the European Union that took place on 1st May 2004.Read more ›
Valletta, Malta’s capital and a World Heritage site, is nothing short of an open-air museum. It is a living experience of Baroque architecture, a monument donated by the Knights of St John nearly five centuries ago. Throughout the years, Valletta has welcomed emperors, heads of state, artists and poets and is now the permanent seat of the Maltese government.Read more ›