Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Valletta, Malta, World Heritage City

Valletta - World Heritage City
Maltese Archipelago

One of UNESCO's World Heritage Sites, Valletta was founded on 28 March 1566.  Its magnificent network of fortifications extend over 27 km and are a perfect example of Renaissance military architecture.  The dignified palaces and churches built by the knights of St. John form an impressive architectonic complex that led it to being described as 'a city built by gentlemen for gentlemen'.

postmarked in 2010 with a Malta 'Blue Grotto' stamp

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Malta, officially the Republic of Malta, is a southern European country and consists of an archipelago situated centrally in the Mediterranean.

It covers just over 300 km² in land area, making it one of the world's smallest and most densely populated countries. Malta has two official languages – Maltese and English – with Maltese being considered the national language.

Throughout history, Malta's location has given it great strategic importance and a sequence of powers including the Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Fatimids, Sicilians, Knights of St John, French and the British ruled the islands. It gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1964 and became a republic in 1974, while retaining membership in the Commonwealth of Nations. It is a member of the United Nations (since 1964) and a member of the European Union (since 2004). 

Malta has a long Christian legacy. According to the Acts of the Apostles in the Christian Bible, St. Paul was shipwrecked on "Melite", as the Greeks called the island, and ministered there.

Malta has nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites, most prominently the Megalithic Temples which are the oldest free-standing structures in Europe.

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