Category Archives: Grand Harbour

Maltese Traditions – The History of the Regatta

The 8th September is known as Victory Day in Malta. It’s a catch-all day because this particular public holiday has several roots, not one clear-cut raison d’etre for celebration: it marks the end of the Great Siege of Malta in 1565 and the end of French occupation on Malta in 1800, as well as the armistice of the Fascist regime in Italy in 1943, which saw the close of the Italian bombardment of the Maltese Islands.
Every nation has its hour of glory in battle. The Regatta is held on September 8th in Grand Harbour to celebrate Malta’s victories during the Great Siege of 1565 and the Second World War. The magnificent Fort St Angelo provides an imposing backdrop to the sleek and colourful Maltese boats. Band marches, water-carnival, boat races and display of colourful fireworks are the main features attracting large crowds to the capital city, Valletta, and the Grand Harbour.

Rowing teams from the cities bordering Grand Harbour such as Valletta, Vittoriosa, Senglea, Kalkara, Cospicua, Marsaxlokk and Marsa, participate in a number of very exciting races, marked by extreme rivalry between participating teams and their respective supporters. For weeks on end, the competitors prepare for the races with fanatic zeal and rivalry. In the afternoon of Regatta day thousands of people crowd the waterfront and the surrounding bastions and craft of every description converge to the Grand Harbour to watch the races.
The first 3 winners in each race are awarded prizes and the club with the highest overall points wins the Aggregate Shield. Each year the different regatta clubs do their best to win the shield, which is strongly contested.
The Regatta is a great fun event and a source of great local pride. If you’re in Malta on the 8th of September make sure you don’t miss attending!

If you would like information about things to do in Malta during your holidays, the dedicated team at one of the leading Malta Hotels are always ready to help you. So for a pleasant holiday in Malta stay at a five star hotel close to Valletta.

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Feasts in Malta – The Santa Marija Convoy

The Feast of Santa Marija is celebrated on the 15th of August, and for the Maltese population this religious holiday bears a very deep, historical significance. Santa Marija is the perfect day for you if you love festas, food, colour and joyous noise all meshed up in a magnificent display of fireworks and revelry. Santa Marija is however also celebrated solemnly and with gusto in the following localities whose parishes honour her: Attard, Mosta, Mqabba, Qrendi, Gudja, Ghaxaq, and Victoria, Gozo.
Maltese History – the story of Santa Marija
During World War II, the Maltese population was saved from starvation and provided with enough supplies to sustain the islands thanks to a food convoy that arrived during the week of the feast day. This convoy’s arrival is seen by many to have been a big turning point of the war in the Mediterranean as otherwise the Maltese would have had no alternative but to surrender.
In August 1942, Operation Pedestal was mounted from the United Kingdom with the aim to relieve Malta. The convoy was intercepted by the Axis who deployed 20 submarines, 19 motor torpedo boats and over 850 aircraft. Hence they faced a gruelling five-day ordeal which saw nine out of fourteen merchant ships succumbing to the relentless round-the-clock attacks.
Four of the ships that survived reached Malta on the 13th and 14th of August. However there was no sign of the sturdy tanker Ohio, which was loaded with vital oil, fuel and kerosene supplies without which Malta could not hope to survive. The tanker had been singled out from the start and faced ferocious attacks and was lying crippled some kilometres off Malta. The ship had been torpedoed and holed, a series of fires were started and controlled, her boilers blew up and her engines failed; twice abandoned and twice rebounded- the tanker would not sink- as if aware that Malta’s survival depended on her!
On August 15th 1942 on the feast of Santa Marija, the Ohio – towed by two destroyers, Ledbury and Penn, and one minesweeper, Rye- entered the Grand Harbour. She discharged her cargo and no sooner were the 10,000 tons of precious fuel oil and kerosene extracted from her mangled hull, the Ohio sank and rested on the bottom. This epic convoy is recorded in Malta’s National War Museum where many items are on display, which include photographs of the fourteen ships; a graphic plan showing the route by the convoy and the locations of where the ships were sunk; the helm and nameboard of ‘Ohio’ amongst many other fascinating historical artefacts.
For more information on how to get to the National War Museum or about Malta Events during your holidays please speak to Our Transport Desk.
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Valletta – the Capital City of Malta

Valletta can be described as a living experience of Baroque architecture, dotted with quaint cafes, and over 25 churches, testament to the centuries-old grained Catholic faith of the Maltese nation. With its fortifications and history-filled streets, is probably the best known place in Malta and gems such as St. John’s Co-Cathedral justify its reputation.
Malta’s majestic Grand Harbour is one of the most spectacular ports in the world separating the capital city of Valletta from the historic cities of Vittoriosa, Senglea and Cospicua. The harbour has been a hive of activity for over two thousand years. With its imposing fortifications and vast panorama, Grand Harbour is Malta’s principal maritime gateway and a popular port-of-call for ships that are cruising the Mediterranean.
The Three Cities of Cospicua, Vittoriosa and Senglea are three of the oldest towns on the island of Malta. The town of Vittoriosa played an important role in the 1565 Great Siege of Malta.
Vittoriosa was the town in which the Knights of Malta settled in on their arrival from Rhodes in 1530. Vittoriosa together with Cospicua and Senglea form three important walled cities along one side of the Grand Harbour. The town of Kalkara is located close to the Three cities. The town gets its name from the latin word calce (lime) since a lime kiln was located here during the Roman times. In Kalkara one finds the quaint hamlet of Santu Rokku and Fort Ricasoli which over the years has been used for the construction of film sets for important blockbusters like Gladiator and Troy and the recent Agora.
For information on Things to do in Malta during your holiday speak to the Transport Desk at the Grand Hotel Excelsior Malta and they will guide you with some of our popular Malta Excursions.
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