Valletta is the capital city of Malta and is named for Jean Parisot de la Valette, a French nobleman who was Grand Master of the Order of St. John and leader of the defenders during the Turkish siege of Malta in 1565.
After the great siege of 1565 the Order of St. John decided to found a new city on the Xiberras Peninsula so as to fortify their position in Malta. The city was designed by Francesco Laparelli, sent to Malta by Pope Pius IV, while many of the most important buildings were built by Gerolamo Cassar.
The first stone was laid on 28 March 1566 and the city was completed in 1571. With the city complete, Cassar spent the following 20 years designing the various auberges, residences for the Knights, as well as the Grandmasters’ Palace and the Great Co-Cathedral of St John.
Valletta was one of the earliest sites inscribed by UNESCO on the World Heritage list and is regarded as the world's first planned community.
Today Valletta still holds a repository of art, architecture, history and culture and is the main shopping and business centre in the Maltese Islands.
The government recently introduced a park and ride scheme aimed at reducing traffic in Valletta whereby drivers are encouraged to leave their cars in a massive car park situated just outside Valletta and enter the city via an efficient mini-van service. The government is seeking to enhance the appreciation of the city through road pedestrianisation, relocated the market that was previously in the upper part of Merchants Street and launched a multi-million project to upgrade the city gate, build a new parliament in Freedom Square and convert the remains of the Opera Theatre in a fascinating open air theatre.
Valletta, with its mixture of old and new and with all that it has to offer will surely captivate all those who visit and guarantees an unforgettable experience.