Malta has enjoyed a long and varied history that has positioned the islands that make up the republic, as everything from military strongholds, to sites of religious significance, to popular tourist destinations. The home of three of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites, an Apostolic See, and one of the most densely populated countries on the planet, Malta is an ideal vacation spot for anyone with an interest in military history, religion, and where the two intersect. Located in the Mediterranean, south of Sicily, east of Tunisia, and west of Alexandria, the republic gained its independence from Britain in 1964, became a republic 10 years later, and became part of the European Union in 2004.
The result of all of this constant changing of rulers and religions is that the Republic of Malta is rife with historical structures that represent the many peoples and traditions that have inhabited the island, at one point or another, throughout history. By viewing the temples, cities, and other structures that are representative of the rich history of the island, a visitor is able to take a visceral journey through the republic’s history.
The City of Valletta
Hal Saflieni Hypogeum
Discovered in 1902, the archaeological site of Hal Saflieni Hypogeum appears to have been both a burial space and a sanctuary for inhabitants of the island from 3600 to 2400 BC. With gorgeous stonework, such as “The Sleeping Lady”, and multiple altars with a spiral design that has inspired multiple contemporary artworks, the Hypogeum has been a popular historical site since it was opened to the public in the 60s. It was closed briefly when it began to deteriorate, and in 2001, was reopened with specially climate controlled glass structures built around many of the caverns. The glass has not diminished the mind-boggling scope and beauty of the caverns at all, and a trip to the Hypogeum is a must if you visit the Republic.
The Seven Temples of Malta and Gozo
This is just a small sample of the number of monuments, temples, churches, and structures available on the islands that make up the Republic of Malta. The dizzying array of architectural and historical sites cannot be visited in one day, so do yourself a favor and schedule a week to visit everything. The visitors’ centers at the various sites are highly informative, and there are a number of lectures and historical activities offered on the islands throughout the year. For anyone interested in military or religious history, a pilgrimage to Malta is a must.
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