Valletta Living History
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A century ago people would get all their information from books. Back then, if you wanted to know about the Valletta’s past, your only choice would be to buy a book and plough on through. Now, things have moved on and other more immediate media are available. So why spend hours buried in a history book when you can take it all in by watching a 35-minute film!
That is precisely what happens at the attraction called Valletta Living History, in a purpose-built, state-of-the-art cinema. It’s situated right in the middle of the UNESCO World Heritage City that is the subject of the film in the shopping and entertainment centre that’s known as the Embassy.
The cinema is also air-conditioned, so being able to get a break from the oppressive heat, especially in the middle of the day, is another reason for giving this a go. You get cool and at the same time you get educated by an entertaining film.
Valletta Living History covers all the key episodes in Malta’s past, including perhaps the most famous of all - the Great Siege of 1565. This was a bloody battle between the Knights of St John and the previously all-conquering Ottoman Empire. Led by the Knights of Malta, this small Catholic island secured a landmark victory for Christianity against the Islamic invaders.
Valletta is named after its founder – the Grand Master of the Order of St John, Jean Parisot de la Valette but the birth of this great city actually owes just as much to his arch-enemy - Grand Turk Suleiman the Magnificent.
To understand why, you need a brief history lesson. So here goes! The Knights of Malta arrived on the island in the 1530s. At the time they were the Knights of Rhodes but were forced to leave their Greek home by those nasty Ottomans.
They were granted possession of Malta by the Pope and settled down in Birgu – which is one of the Three Cities. The knights feared another invasion from the Ottomans so enlarged the St Elmo watchtower on the Sceberras Peninsula that sat opposite Birgu – this was the plot of land that would eventually become Valletta.
Once the Knights, aided by the Maltese people, had seen off the Islamic threat to their homeland and also to other Catholic countries in Western Europe, financial gifts of thanks came flooding in from a grateful Pope Pius V and from King Philip of Spain, who also loaned the services of the great Italian military engineer Francesco Laparelli.
And so the Knights set about creating a new heavily defended fortress city on the Mount Sceberras peninsula in case the Grand Turk should return and they named it after their leader. Valletta was born ... well, created!
Work began in 1566 and within 15 years the city was complete. This was an incredibly short time span when you consider the building methods available in those days. The resulting city was one of the first examples of town planning and is based on a grid pattern of streets.
This is covered in much more detail in the film, which also traces Malta’s subsequent history under the knight, through the brief period of French rule and then colonisation under the British. You’ll also discover the role the city played during World War II.
Valletta Living History presents a high quality docudrama and is suitable for all the family. After watching the film, you can treat yourself to a memento from the souvenir shop.
You’ll find the multi-storey Embassy complex just around the corner from some of Valletta’s most famous attractions including St John’s Co-Cathedral and the Grandmaster’s Palace.
Screenings start every 45 minutes between 9.30am and 2.45pm with tickets costing €9.75 for adults, €4 for children and €7 for students. Family tickets are €25.
Address: Embassy Complex, St Lucia's Street, Valletta
Phone: +356 2122 2225
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