Category Archives: Maltese Islands

Explore Valletta: The Palace Armoury

Palace_Armoury__Valletta_9The Palace Armoury in Valletta is one of the world’s largest collections of arms and armour that is still housed in its original building. The Knights of St John were a unique brotherhood of resolute warrior monks. From Malta, their island stronghold, these combatant aristocrats from the noblest houses of Europe, carried out their relentless crusade against the Ottoman Turks in defence of the Catholic faith.

The Palace Armoury is certainly one of the most visible and tangible symbols of the past glories of the Sovereign Hospitaller Military Order of Malta. Grand Master Alof de Wignacourt transferred the Order’s arsenal to the Magisterial Palace in 1604 where it was the pride of the Order. Apart from being lavishly adorned with elaborate trophies of arms, it held enough arms and armour to equip thousands of soldiers. It was housed in the magnificent hall at the rear of the building, right above its present location.

At present, it is displayed inside two halls that were originally the stables of the palace. Following the forced departure of the Order of St. John from Malta, the armoury somehow lost much of its original grandeur. However, it was restored and was officially opened as Malta’s first public museum in 1860. Although only a fraction of its original splendour remains, the Armoury still contains abundant material of Italian, German, French and Spanish origin from principal production centres. Also displayed is an exotic selection of Islamic and Ottoman arms and armour. Apart from the massed arms of the common soldiers in the collection, the enriched personal armours of the nobility still manage to make a statement. Various areas of the Palace State Rooms and Armoury are currently undergoing restoration. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.

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Reasons to Visit:
1. Unique display of suits of armour owned by Grand Masters Alof de Wignacourt and Jean de La Valette.
2. Arms and armour used by the Knights of St. John between 1530 -1798 and by the Ottoman Empire during the Great Siege of 1565.
3. A varied selection of firearms used for both military and sporting purposes.
4. A chance to see a selection of artillery pieces originally used for battle on the fortifications.

Valletta will have the honour of holding the esteemed title of European Capital of Culture in 2018. If you plan to visit Malta be sure to visit interesting places around the capital, Valletta. Contact the Concierge Desk at this luxury 5 star hotel on the doorstep of Valletta for some great tips on places worth visiting during your next holiday to Malta.

Photo credit: Aaron Briffa & Viewing Malta

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Holy Week and Easter in Malta

Easter is a festive, religious and emotional time for both locals and tourists. It is thus no surprise that one find tourists wondering around the towns and villages during the various processions and pageants that take place during the weeks preceding Easter. They try to capture everything that’s happening around them on cameras.

Within the churches, celebrations become truly alive with colours, ornaments, flowers and a great number of devotees. One of the processions that is a crowd puller is the ‘Addolorata, mainly because people identify their own miseries, pain and suffering with those of Holy Mary’s. On Maundy Thursday several local devotees visit the ‘seven churches’ where they kneel, reflect and pray beside the tomb of Christ.

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Good Friday gives a sombre outlook where churches are deprived from the traditional ornamental style for a single day. The red colour, resembling the Blood of Christ, is splashed all over the churches. On Good Friday Malta is turned into Roman and Jewish pageantry. In the inner core of villages one comes across Pontius Pilate, Barabbas and other biblical characters during the renowned processions. People do some odd penitence such as carrying heavy weights or walking barefoot! Some even cover up their faces as they pay the price for a special grace they received.

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The atmosphere changes completely the following day in the evening. Celebrations start in pitch darkness. They are then illuminated by flickering candle lights. Finally there is an ‘explosion’ of light, where churches are suddenly illuminated with candles, chandeliers, bulbs and floodlights. Bells toll happily as they break the night’s silence in order to announce Christ’s resurrection, exactly when the singing of the ‘Glorja’ commences.

During these festivities there are some very special and unique Maltese delicacies. The ‘kwarezimal’ and the ‘figolli’ top the list. There are other food items such as the Lent’s ftajjar; Karamelli and hot cross buns. Although in Lent the traditional Maltese fast, yet the street vendors are as busy as bees in keeping up with the heavy demand!

Spend your Easter Holidays in Malta. Contact Our Concierge Desk during your stay and they will advise you on Where to Go and What to Do in Malta during your holidays.

Photo Credits: Viewing Malta & Mario Galea

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Things to do in Malta this Winter

Visiting Malta this Winter? There are several things you can enjoy whilst exploring the islands. From country walks to visiting museums, there is surely something for everyone to enjoy. Have a look at some of our tips that will make your holiday in Malta worthwhile.

Hagar Qim Temple

Hagar Qim Temple – © Viewing Malta

1. Visit Hagar Qim, Malta’s prehistoric freestanding Megalithic temples situated in Qrendi
2. Practice your photography
3. Go out cycling one morning or afternoon
4. Have you tried painting? There are so many beautiful sceneries around Malta and Gozo
5. Go karting in Ta’ Qali
6. Try horse riding at least once in your life

Ggantija Temples Gozo

Ggantija Temples Gozo – © Mick Cundy & Viewing Malta

7. Go back to the past; visit the ‘Ggantija Temples’ in Gozo
8. Dance the night away at one of the nightclubs in Paceville
9. Visit the ‘Kordin 111 Neolithic Temples’

War Museum

War Museum – © Rene Rossignaud

10. Go to the ‘Malta War Museum’ in Fort St Elmo in Valletta
11. Visit the ‘Museum of National History’ in Mdina
12. Visit the National library in Valletta

Mgarr ix-Xini Coastal Tower

Mgarr ix-Xini Coastal Tower – © Pauline Dingli & Viewing Malta

13. Go to Mgarr Ix-Xini cove in Gozo
14. Visit the Royal Navy Prison Museum in Corradino
15. Take a trip out to the newly opened National Aquarium in Qawra
16. See the ‘Fat Lady’ at the Tarxien temples
17. Admire ‘The Magesterial Palace & Armoury’ in Valletta
18. Take time to explore at least one seasonal cultural event

The Grand Hotel Excelsior’s prime location allows easy access to all tourist locations around the Maltese Islands. The main bus terminus provides services to all towns and villages and is only a few minutes away from this luxury 5 star hotel in Malta. If you’d like to explore places around Malta, kindly contact the chauffeur driven service at this superior hotel.  With a list of tours and excursions they will surely help you enjoy a unique and memorable Malta holiday.

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