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More than 20-plus years ago (when I first went) Valletta was a city crying out for facilities that really took advantage of the view. Sure, there were plenty of excellent cafés and bars but these were in the middle of town. If only someone would build a development on the side of the Grand Harbour – on the Valletta Waterfront.
Well, slap me silly and call me Ingrid if some clever developer didn’t go and do just that and call it Valletta Waterfront! And what an utterly magnificent leisure complex has been created as a result. It’s classy, it’s smart, it’s cool and you really should go! It’s one of our favourite venues for a meal out or an evening drink and it’s all down to that amazing view and some amazing and historic buildings.
Essentially they are little more than storage - 19 warehouses to be precise. But these are not corrugated iron boxes full of shelving, these warehouses were built by the Knights of Malta’s 68th Grand Master, Manoel Pinto da Fonseca. And they’re magnificent!
It’s unlikely that he could ever have envisaged 250-years-ago how these magnificent sandy buildings would become fashionable bars and restaurants. However, given that he had a reputation as a great lover of the city of Valletta, we can only assume that he would be delighted with the result.
The warehouses sit on the water’s edge at the foot of the historical Quay Wall. It was here that the Knights of St John and European merchants would see their boats unloaded and the goods stashed away behind the brightly-coloured doors. The original colours have been maintained in the modern design. They were painted this way to indicate to the largely illiterate sailors, which cargo went through which door.
As usual, it was money that dictated the project would get off the ground. Valletta Waterfront is conveniently and extremely close to where half a million fairly well-off passengers disembark from their huge and luxurious cruise ships each year. And so this row of eateries and shops provides a superb change of scene from the bars onboard.
They house bars, shops, restaurants and even night clubs, offering a unique experience to visitors in what is a majestic setting on the edge Malta’s Grand Harbour. This is a natural and extremely deep port, which for many thousands of years was the epicentre of Malta’s maritime activity. The view is across the water to the fleet of expensive yachts and the Three Cities, where many of those historic Knights once lived.
The stunning setting has also been employed as a venue for a number of open-air concerts. Internationally acclaimed artists including Led Zeppelin singer Robert Plant and Italian blues veteran Zucchero have played to thousands on the quayside. The highly regarded Malta Jazz Festival also takes place here.
The waterfront’s shops sell Maltese souvenirs and handcrafts like Mdina Glass and Gozo Glass products, as well as traditional filigree and lace known as ‘bizzilla’. There’s a toy shop and you can buy classic statuettes of the famous Knights plus other gifts.
Address: 45/46 Pinto Wharf, Floriana FRN 1913
Phone: +356 2567 3000
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