If Crystal Blue Pools And Majestic Ruins Intrigue You, This European Destination Will Blow You Away
The ruins of past civilizations stand through time, records of a history as rich as it is ancient. Yellowing buildings stand tall atop cliffs at the borders of secret coves, towering like sentinels silhouetted against Mediterranean sunsets. Night settles in and warm lights come spilling out of rocky grottos and hidden alcoves, out the hulls and decks of yachts floating in the calm waters.
Malta is an island nation off the Southern coast of Europe, between the island of Sicily and the coastlines of Tunisia and Libya. At only 316 square kilometres, it’s a tiny country, with a population of a little under 500,000. Maltese is the main language here, although the locals are well-versed enough in English for you to get around. It’s a place both of antiquity and contemporary culture.
Soft-spoken drama is what defines Malta’s rocky landscape. Limestone cliffs tower high up quiet pockets of crystal blue sea, their waves lapping against beaches of fiery red and gold. Blue Lagoon on the island of Comino is among the most stunning of these destinations, a pool of the clearest blue ocean, with waters so still that it’s almost a requirement to swim in them. St. Peter’s Pool, on the main island of Malta, is a body of water surrounded all around by slabs of yellow rock, perfect for afternoon sunbathing or a cannonball dive into the sea.
As stunning as its own natural wonder is the millennia-old relics that have accumulated over years and years of the island’s occupation, to be discovered in the modern day by curious tourists. Many of these structures are shrouded in mystery. The Hypogeium of Hal Saflieni, a necropolis from as far back as the third century B.C., was hewn from the rock in such a way that any sound made in any part of the Hypogeum can be heard at the same volume in any other part of the structure, a fantastical feat for a pre-Classic era civilization.
The temples of Hagar Qim and Manjdra are fantastic structures from prehistoric, pre-civilization times while St. John’s Co-Cathedral and the Grand Master’s Palace hearken to Malta’s more contemporary Roman Catholic heritage. The great temples and cathedrals that dot the Malta countryside make for an intriguing adventure however you choose to explore them.
Return to the city after a day amongst the ruins and you’ll find a delectably cultured contemporary scene waiting for you. The city of Valletta is a surprisingly happening place, with places such as Strait Street and St. Lucia Street providing nifty little hole-in-the-walls for tourists looking for a drink and some good jazz music and dancing. Wherever you go, the food is a treat, a wonderful blend of cultures cooked to the tunes of the Mediterranean sea and the bounty that lies within it. Ta’Philip in Gozo is a must-try if you’re looking for fine cuisine. There are plenty of places for you to stay in as well, and accommodations include places such as Casa Ellul and Palazzo Prince d’Orange, once-upon-a-time palaces from the Baroque age that have since been turned into boutique hotels for wandering travellers.
The tiny islands of Malta are a clustered haven of sights of all kinds, from the geologically stunning to the ancient and mysterious. If a vacation for you is a dive into the past and an exploration of the profound and interesting, Malta could be the next stop for you.
Banner photo from @bluelagooncomino | thumbnail photo from @lmnc