Malta is a hidden gem located in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea. When asking the question, ‘what is Malta famous for?’, we think of sun, sea, and beautiful beaches. There’s so much more to Malta than golden sands and blue waves, but it’s undeniable that Malta’s beautiful coast is one of the Mediterranean’s most stunning landscapes. The country is adorned with scenic hilltop towns, harmonious seaports, and ancient fishing villages. Here are 12 interesting facts about Malta that might surprise you!
1. Napoleon Bonaparte–a French military and political leader who is often considered one of the greatest commanders in history–also captured Malta on his way to Egypt during the French Revolutionary Wars in 1798.
2. For the country’s bravery in the Second World War, Malta was awarded the George Cross by King George VI of the United Kingdom.
3. During World War I, Malta was also known as the Nurse of the Mediterranean because a large number of wounded soldiers were accommodated on the island.
4. As well as being famous for its diving, architectural sites, and festivals, Malta is also a popular film location in its own right. The films ‘Gladiator’ and ‘Troy’ both take advantage of Malta’s classical charm, while the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ franchise passed off a few Maltese landscapes as Caribbean beaches. ‘Game of Thrones’ also contains several scenes filmed around the intensely photogenic capital of Valletta. Game of Thrones fans will also be keen to know that Gozo’s famous, Azure Window provided the backdrop for Daenerys Targaryen’s wedding with Kahl Drogo.
5. There is a cave in Gozo which overlooks Ramla Ray which is rumoured to be the cave that the nymph Calyspo inhabited, and that Homer wrote about in his famous Odyssey. Whilst the cave is pretty standardly cave-like, the views from it are something special to behold.
6. Malta is also home to some of the oldest free-standing structures of the world – the seven Megalithic Temples. The country is believed to have been inhabited since the early Neolithic period of 5000 BC.
7. While it showcases some great architecture and natural sights, you won’t find a single forest in Malta. There are also no mountains or rivers across all seven islands.
8. Would you believe that the capital of Malta, Valletta, has a total area of 0.8 square km? It is so tiny that it is the smallest national capital in all of the European countries. And it is also Europe’s first planned city. Now that’s interesting! It took approximately 15 years to build the city this way, which also makes it one of the most rapidly built cities in the world.
9. Be sure to check out some of the local delicacies whilst you are there such as Kinnie, Cisk, and the ever-famous pastizzi! They are an absolute delight and a must-try for anyone visiting Malta.
10. Also, known as the “Silent City”, Mdina, served as Malta’s capital from antiquity to the medieval period, is a walled city. There are approximately 300 people residing inside the walls of the city. Perhaps surprisingly, only the cars of its residents are allowed inside its boundaries.
11. Malta has also been described as the country with the best climate in the world by International Living.
12. Did you know that you could stay in Malta for exactly one year and visit a different church every day? That’s right, there is an impressive 365 churches dotted around Malta and its sister island of Gozo.
How to reach?
When it comes to travelling to Malta by air, Malta International Airport (MLA) is the single international airport in the country. There are a number of connecting flights from the major cities of India to Malta. The shortest flight flies from New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport and it takes about 12 hours to reach Malta, including a layover in Rome.
Gozo: This is one of the most picturesque islands in Malta with quiet towns and stunningly beautiful beaches ideal for a relaxing vacation. You can enjoy the beautiful landscape of rolling hills and valleys that lead to beaches. Even though it is not as developed as Malta, the island has plenty of cultural attractions: a fortified medieval city, Victoria; a bustling seaside resort, Marsalforn; and the most important archaeological site of the Maltese Islands, Ggantija Temples, dating back to around 3500 BC.
Popeye Village: Popeye Village, also known as Sweethaven Village, is the actual set used by Paramount Pictures and Walt Disney Productions to shoot the film Popeye starring Robin Williams and has become one of the top tourist attractions of Malta. It is a beautiful seaside village of roughly 20 wooden structures.
Blue Lagoon: Located in Comino Island, Blue Lagoon is a piece of gem and one of Malta’s points of interest! The crystal-clear turquoise waters lapping over a white-sand seabed is the highlight of the place. Since the water is temperate and there are no waves, this place serves as the perfect spot for swimming and is even safe for children.
Blue Grotto: Blue Grotto is a breath-taking seaside scenery and limestone caves here are a picture of pure serenity. You can take a guided boat tour where you will speed through the sea past six caves, including the Blue Grotto, a 30-meter-high cave with a deep pool of water. The spectacular coastline together with its pristine scenery is a feast to any nature lover.
Golden Bay Beach: Golden Bay in north-western Malta is one of the most beautiful coasts on the island with extremely wide shoreline of soft golden sands. The beach is surrounded by the cliff on one side and the blue waters on the other, providing a picturesque view. You can spend the day here sunbathing while listening to the soothing sound of waves lapping against the shore.