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A Walk through Valletta


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03-06-2015 - By: Steve Mercieca

This stroll takes you through the heart of the city, past churches, palaces, auberges, and a lot of modern shopfronts. Avoid Saturday afternoon and Sunday, when the streets lack their characteristic bustle. Allow 1 hour.

Start at the recently renovated City Gate by Renzo Piano. 

1 Royal Opera House

From City Gate you enter Freedom Square where you will see the sad ruins of the Royal Opera House, once a splendid venue for theatre and opera. No attempt has been made to reverse the devastation of Word War II, and opera perfomances now take place in the Manoel Theatre. Just before this is the new parliment. It was planned that people could walk under it, however the new government has decided to decline this access due to security reasons. 

2  Triq ir-Repubblika (Republic Street)

Straight ahead of you is Republic Street, the city's main artery, bustling by day with workers, shoppers, and tourists, and in the evening with locals out for the passiggata (promenade). A short way down on the left, the Auberge de Provence houses the National Museum of Archaeology .
The next right turn takes you to the main entrance of St John's Co-Cathedral .  If you divert here, return to Republic St, turning right for Great Siege Square.

3 Misrah L-Assedju L-Kbir (Great Siege Square)

The allegorical monument, commemorating those who died in the Great Siege of 1565, is by the Maltese sculptor, Antonio Sciortino (1879-1947). Nearby, the horsedrawn karrozzin wait patiently for customers. Across the road, the Law Courts occupy an imposing modern building in classical style.

4 Misrah ir-Repubblika (Republic Square)

A few steps further on will bring you to the tree-lined Republic Square. Stop here for coffee, either al fresco or in the pretty Rococo salon of the Café Cordina. A statue of Queen Victoria presides over the square. Immediately after the square turn left down Triq it-Teatru il-Qadim (Old Theatre St) which slopes down to the harbour. Stop at the first street.

5 Triq it-Dejqa (Strait Street)

The exceptionally narrow Strait Street was the only place where the Knights were allowed to fight duels. Once a notorious red-light area, know to British servicemen as "The Gut", this is still fairly sleazy at night. Walk to the end of the street, passing the Manoel Theatre, the Carmelite Church, and various little grocery shops and bars. Note the plaque to Sir Walter Scott who stayed in the building when it was a hotel on the left. Turn right for Pjazza Indipendenza (Independence Square), overlooked by St Paul's Anglican Cathedral , then return to Republic St via Triq l'Arèisqof (Archbishop's St), noting the variety of wooden and wrought-iron balconies. At Misrah il-Palazz (Palace Square), overlooked by the Grand Masters Palace , turn left down towards the steepest part of Republic St.

6 Casa Rocca Piccola

The small, late 16th-centyrt palazzo at No. 74 provides a rare opportunity to visit a historic home still occupied by a Maltese noble family. Guided tours daily, except Sun, at 10am, 11am, noon, & 1pm. Walk down to Fort St Elmo, turn right, then right again for Merchants' St.

7  Triq II-Merkanti (Merchants' Street)

Running parallel to Republic Street, the aptly named Marchants' Street is lined with small neighbourhood stores and tailors, as well as Baroque churches and palazzi. There is bustling morning market. Nearing the end of the street note the Auberge d'Italie, now the General Post Office, on the right, and St Catherine's Church alongside.

Opposite, the austere Palazzo Parisio was Napoleon's headquarters when he stayed on Malta in 1798. A right turn at the end of the street, passing La Vittoria church on your left, will bring you back to the start of Republic Street.