Great Siege Experience
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Nothing shaped the history of Malta - or arguably the history of the rest of Western Europe - like the Great Siege. It was a watershed event in this small island’s past and one we should all know more about – because without it, many more Europeans could quite feasibly be speaking Arabic and visiting a Mosque on a daily basis.
To learn how this might have come to pass you need a place to go and hear the tale recounted in a dedicated museum. Somehwere like the Great Siege Experience - a purpose-built attraction with dioramas that present some of the most important parts of this legendary tale.
But before we let you know what to expect at this Valletta attraction, it’s time for a quick history lesson. So sit back and we’ll keep it short and lively, which is what the film presentation does too.
Right! It’s the mid 16th century and forces from the Muslim empire, from Turkey, known as the Ottomans, are attempting to take over most of Western Europe and turn it from Catholic into followers of Islam. Their cunning plan is working well - until they come upon the small island of Malta and suddenly, it all goes a bit pear-shaped.
You see the problem was that holed up on Malta, having already been flushed out of Crete by the Ottomans, were a group of Catholic noble fighting men called the Knights Hospitaller of St John – often referred to as the Knights of Malta.
And they were not happy puppies! In fact they were incredibly angry! The knights teamed up with the devoutly Catholic Maltese people, who were also keen to see off the Islamic invaders, and in 1565 they fought a bloody battle that came to be known as the Great Siege of Malta.
Suffice to say the Knights won! The Ottomans scuttled off with their tails between their legs and were never quite the same again. The result safeguarded the Christian status of Europe. And that’s why the siege was so important in European terms. Without the knights and the Maltese, the Turks would have secured a base close to Sicily and not too far from Rome and the Vatican. Take that one step further and the whole of Western Europe could have been and might now be Muslim.
From a Maltese point of view, the event was massively significant, not least because a third of the knights and a third of the island’s entire population died in the siege. Malta has always cherished its Christianity and 98% of the population is Catholic to this day. Moreover, there was a great outpouring of gratitude and wealth from other Christian countries towards Malta – a show of relief they had defeated the infidels.
The Knights used the thank you gifts to fund the creation of a new, highly-fortified capital for the nation – just in case those pesky Ottomans returned. But luckily they never did! That new city was named after the top knight of the time, the Grand Master de Valette. Valletta was born!
And so it’s entirely fitting that this entertaining and informative presentation about the siege is located here – in the very city that resulted from the victory. You’ll find it next to the historic Premier Café, a perfect venue for coffee and a snack before or after the show.
Actually, if you’re short on time then it’s possible to place an order before you enter the attraction. They know exactly what time the show will be finished and your food and drinks can be ready and waiting for you as you walk out. The café specialises in tapas and sushi, among other things.
Tickets for the Great Siege of Malta Experience cost €7.50 for adults, €3.75 for children and €4.00 for students and OAPs. There are also special rates if you’re in a large group. The attraction opens from on weekdays from10am to 4.30pm and on Saturdays between 10am and 3pm.
Address: 34 Republic Street, Valletta VLT 1410
Phone: +356 2248 9300
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