Valletta

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Valletta
Image:Valletta coa.png
Motto: Città umilissima
Official name: Valletta
Image:Valletta l.png
Latitude: 35°54' N
Longitude: 14°31' E
Area: 0.55 km²
Population:
 - Total
 - Density:

6315 (Nov 2005)
13909/km²
Borders: Floriana
Inhabitant's name: Beltin
Patron:
 - Saint
 - Day:

St. Paul;
February 10;
Website: http://www.cityofvalletta.org

Valletta, population 6,315 (official estimate for 2005), is the capital city of Malta.

Contents

[edit] Name

The official name the Order of Saint John gave to the city was Humilissima Civitas Valletta — a city bound to humility. However, with the building of bastions, curtains and ravelins, along with the beauty of the baroque buildings along its streets, it became known as Superbissima — 'Most Proud', amongst the ruling houses of Europe. In Maltese it is colloquially known as Il-Belt, simply meaning "The City".

[edit] Government

Dr. Paul Borg Olivier is the Mayor of Valletta and has been leading the City Council since 1999. Dr. Borg Olivier was elected on the Nationalist Party Ticket (PN), an affiliate of the European People's Party, which holds the majority of the Council.

[edit] History

Image:Valletta.jpg
Valletta skyline

The foundation stone of Valletta was laid by the Grandmaster of the Order of Saint John, Jean Parisot de la Valette, on 28 March 1566; The Order (which was the long-time ruler of the city and the island) decided to found a new city on the Xiberras peninsula just after the end of the Siege of Malta in 1565, so as to fortify the Order's position in Malta, effectively binding the Knights to the island. The city was designed by Francesco Laparelli, while many of the most important buildings were built by Gerolamo Cassar. Valletta, hence, is an urban area which boasts many buildings from the 16th century and onwards, but most of them were built during the time of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem (the Knights Hospitaller, or Knights of Malta).

After the Knights and the brief French interlude, the next building boom in Valletta occurred during the British rule. Gates were widened, buildings demolished and rebuilt, houses widened and civic projects installed: However the whole city and its infrastructure were damaged by air raids in World War II, notably losing its majestic opera house constructed at the city entrance in the 19th century.

[edit] Geography

Image:MaltaImmagine 449.jpg
St. Ursola Street, Valletta

The Valletta peninsula, which is fed by the two natural harbours of Marsamxett and the Grand Harbour, is Malta's major port, with unloading quays at Marsa; a cruise-liner terminal has been built recently in the Grand Harbour, along the old sea-wall of the duty free stores built by Grandmaster Fra Manuel Pinto de Fonseca.

The city contains several buildings of historic importance, amongst which are St John's Co-Cathedral, formerly the Conventual Church of the Knights of Malta and home to the largest single work by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, his only signed work, and a priceless collection of seventeenth-century Flemish tapestries (alongside Republic Street); the Auberge de Castille et Leon, formerly the official seat of the of the Knights of Malta of the Langue of Castille, Léon and Portugal, now the office of the Prime Minister of Malta (found on the highest point of the city, above the bastions); the Magisterial Palace, built between 1571 and 1574, formerly the seat of the Grand Master of the Knights of Malta, now housing the Maltese Parliament and the offices of the President of Malta (opposite Palace Square along Republic Street); the National Museum of Fine Arts, a Rococo palace dating back to the late 1570s, which served as the official residence of the Commander-in-Chief of the Mediterranean Fleet during the British era, from 1789 onwards (in South Street); the National Museum of Archeology, formerly the Auberge de Provence (Republic Street); the Manoel Theatre (Teatru Manoel, in Maltese), constructed in just ten months in 1731, by order of Grand Master Antonio Manoel de Vilhena, and one of the oldest working theatres in Europe; the Mediterranean Conference Centre, formerly the Sacra Infermeria, built in 1574, one of Europe's most renowned hospitals during the time of the Knights of Malta; and the fortifications themselves, built by the Knights as a magnificent series of bastions, demi-bastions, ravelins and curtains, approximately 100 metres high, designed to protect the city from attack. The City of Valletta was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980.

Image:Port of Valetta, Malta.jpeg
The Grand Harbour, on the eastern side of Valletta.

Valletta has a suburb, Floriana, which was built on the outside part of the Valletta bastions and on the inner part of the Floriana Lines, hence leaving an area between these two lines to house those that could not afford a house in Valletta. Another area for such people is located within Valletta's own walls: In the original plans, the Order wanted a man-made creek to house the navy, however this could not be completed, and so the area, known as Manderaggio (in Maltese 'il-Mandraġġ'), was taken over by the homeless, so resulting in a jumble of buildings with dark alleyways in despicable sanitary conditions. The Manderaggio was partially demolished in the 1950s so as to build a housing area in Valletta. The area still remains a shabby area, yet still it is better than it was before.

[edit] Demographics

The population of Valletta has steadily decreased over the years, and is now reduced to about a third of its peak. This process was heavily accelerated after World War II as new development in outlying suburbs marked a shift of the population away from the capital city, but it continues as the center of Malta's commercial and administrative activity.

[edit] Transport

Image:Republicstreet.jpg
Republic Street, Valletta (2006)

Malta's public transport system, which uses buses, operates mostly on routes to or from Valletta, with their central terminus just outside the city's entrance. Traffic within the city itself is restricted, with some principal roads being completely pedestrian areas. In 2006, Valletta is expected to become a traffic free zone, with the new Park and Ride initiative.

[edit] Churches

There is a total of 22 churches in Valletta. The first church that was built was that of Our Lady of Victories.

[edit] Culture

Image:Royalvalletta.jpg
The ruins of the Royal Opera House

The city contains various historic cafes, meeting places, restaurants, banks, hotels and Government offices. There are also public gardens which offer fantastic views of the Grand Harbour and other surroundings.

The Manoel Theatre at Old Theatre Street has been staging performances since 1732. Built by Grandmaster António Manoel de Vilhena and recently refurbished to its original glory, it is one of Europe's oldest theatres. It specialises in the classical performing arts, but also stages poetry, jazz, folk and rock concerts.

Image:Pjazza Regina.JPG
Pjazza Regina, Valletta, as seen in the film "Munich"

The feast of Saint Paul is celebrated in Valletta on February 10, whilst the feasts of Saint Dominic, Saint Augustine and Our Lady of Mount Carmel are celebrated throughout the year with devotion. A procession of St. Rita is also carried out.

Valletta is also renowned for its football club Valletta FC, one of the top football clubs on the Maltese island.

The last several chapters of Thomas Pynchon's novel V. take place in Valletta.

Parts of the film Munich were shot in Valletta.

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

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