Top historic sites in Malta

Rotunda of Mosta

The Church of the Assumption of Our Lady, commonly known as the Rotunda of Mosta, is the third largest unsupported dome in the world and the third largest in Europe. Built in the 19th century on the site of a previous church, it was designed by the Maltese architect Giorgio Grognet de Vassé. Its dome is among the largest in the world, with an internal diameter of 37.2 metres. the rotunda walls are 9.1 metres thick (nece ...
Founded: 1833-1871 | Location: Mosta, Malta

St. John's Co-Cathedral

St. Johns Co-Cathedral was built by the Knights of Malta between 1573 and 1578, having been commissioned in 1572 by Grand Master Jean de la Cassière as the conventual church of the Order of the Knights Hospitaller of St John, known as the Knights of Malta. The Church was designed by the Maltese military architect Glormu Cassar who designed several of the more prominent buildings in Valletta. The church is considere ...
Founded: 1573-1578 | Location: Valletta, Malta

Valletta Old Town

Valletta, the capital of Malta, is inextricably linked to the history of the military and charitable Order of St John of Jerusalem. It was ruled successively by the Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs and the Order of the Knights of St John. Valletta’s 320 monuments, all within an area of 55 ha, make it one of the most concentrated historic areas in the world. The city was officially recogn ...
Founded: | Location: Valletta, Malta

Fort St. Angelo

Fort Saint Angelo is a large bastioned fort in Birgu, located at the centre of the Grand Harbour. The fort was originally a castle, and its date of construction is not known. It definitely existed by the 13th century, and in the Middle Ages it was known as the Castrum Maris. It was rebuilt by the Order of Saint John as Fort Saint Angelo in the 16th and 17th centuries, and it played an important role in the Great Siege of ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Valletta, Malta

Casa Rocca Piccola

Casa Rocca Piccola is a 16th-century palace in Valletta and home of the noble de Piro family. The history of the building goes back over 400 years to an era in which the Knights of St John, having successfully fought off the invading Turks in 1565, decided to build a prestigious city to rival other European capitals such as Paris and Venice. Palaces were designed for prestige and aesthetic beauty in most of Valletta"s str ...
Founded: 16th century | Location: Valletta, Malta

Ta' Hagrat Temples

The Ta' Ħaġrat temples in Mġarr, Malta is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with several other Megalithic temples. They are amongst the most ancient religious sites on Earth. The larger Ta' Ħaġrat temple dates from the Ġgantija phase (3600–3200 BCE); the smaller is dated to the Saflieni phase (3300–3000 BCE). The excavation of plentiful pottery deposits show that a village stood on the site and ...
Founded: 3600-3000 BC | Location: Mġarr, Malta

Grandmaster's Palace

The Grandmaster"s Palace was built in the 16th century as the palace of the Grand Master of the Order of St. John, who ruled Malta, and was also known as the Magisterial Palace. It currently houses the Office of the President of Malta, and part of it is open to the public as a museum. The Grandmaster"s Palace was originally built in 1569, as the palace of Eustachio del Monte. It was purchased by Grand Master Je ...
Founded: 1569 | Location: Valletta, Malta

Fort St. Elmo

Fort Saint Elmo is a star fort commanding the entrances to both harbours along with Fort Tigné and Fort Ricasoli. It is best known for its role in the Great Siege of Malta of 1565. By 1417, the local militia had already established a permanent watch post on the tip of the Sciberras Peninsula. In 1488, the Aragonese built a watchtower on Saint Elmo Point, and it was dedicated to Erasmus of Formia, better known as Sa ...
Founded: 1552–1570 | Location: Valletta, Malta

Ggantija

Ġgantija is a Neolithic, megalithic temple complex on the Mediterranean island of Gozo. The Ġgantija temples are the earliest of a series of megalithic temples in Malta (older than the pyramids of Egypt). Their makers erected the two Ġgantija temples during the Neolithic Age (c. 3600–2500 BC), which makes these temples more than 5500 years old and the world"s second oldest manmade religious structures ...
Founded: 3600-2500 BC | Location: Gozo, Malta

St. Paul's Cathedral

St. Paul"s Cathedral in Mdina was built on the site where governor Publius was reported to have met Saint Paul following his shipwreck off the Maltese coast. According to tradition, the first Cathedral of Malta was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, Mother of God but, having fallen into ruin during the Muslim period, it was rebuilt following the Norman conquest and re-dedicated to St Paul. The old church was modified a ...
Founded: 1697-1702 | Location: Mdina, Malta

Saluting Battery

The Saluting Battery is Valletta"s ancient ceremonial platform from where gun salutes are still fired regularly. Equally, the passage of time is marked twice daily from her with gun fire at noon (12:00) and sunset (16:00). The battery itself is located at one of the capital"s highest vantage points from where splendid vistas of the Grand Harbour and its surrounding towns can be enjoyed. Its origins go back to t ...
Founded: 1566 | Location: Valletta, Malta

Tarxien Temples

The Tarxien Temples are an archaeological complex dating to approximately 3150 BC. The site was accepted as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980 along with the other Megalithic temples on the island of Malta. The Tarxien consist of three separate, but attached, temple structures. The main entrance is a reconstruction dating from 1956, when the whole site was restored. At the same time, many of the decorated slabs discove ...
Founded: 3150-3000 BC | Location: Tarxien, Malta

St. Paul’s Catacombs

St. Paul’s Catacombs are some of the most prominent features of Malta’s paleochristian archaeology. The archaeological clearing of the site has revealed an extensive system of underground galleries and tombs dated from the fourth to the ninth centuries AD. Two catacombs are open to the public, but these are only a small part of the entire St. Paul"s and St. Agatha’s complex. St. Paul’s cataco ...
Founded: 300-400 AD | Location: Rabat, Malta

Cittadella

The Cittadella is a small fortified city and citadel which lies in the heart of Victoria on the island of Gozo, Malta. The area has been inhabited since the Bronze Age, and in the Medieval era it was known as the Gran Castello. The Cittadella has been on Malta"s tentative list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 1998. Archaeological remains show that the area presently occupied by the Cittadella was first inhabited ...
Founded: c. 1500 | Location: Gozo, Malta

Manoel Theatre

The Manoel Theatre is one of the oldest working theatres in Europe. Constructed in 1731 by the Grand Master Antonio Manoel de Vilhena the theatre is a baroque gem with a wonderful acoustic and a full calendar of events populated by local and international performers, with productions in English and Maltese. The theatre is located on Old Theatre Street in Valletta. It considers itself as the country"s national theatr ...
Founded: 1731 | Location: Valletta, Malta

San Anton Palace

San Anton Palace is the official residence of the President of Malta, and is surrounded by both private and public gardens. The San Anton Palace and its gardens owe their origin to the Knight Antoine de Paule, a French knight from the Langue de Provence, who was elected 54th Grand Master of the Order of St. John in 1623. As Grand Master, de Paule, who also founded Paola in 1626, acquired a sizeable plot of land near Atta ...
Founded: 17th century | Location: Attard, Malta

St. Paul's Church and Grotto

The Collegiate Church of St Paul is built on part of the site of the Roman city Melite, which included all of Mdina and a large part of present-day Rabat. There were numerous churches built on the site of the present church which dates from the 17th century. In 1336 bishop Hilarius refers to the church as ecclesia Sancti Pauli de crypta, and also mentions the cemetery and the Roman ditch. The present church was built to r ...
Founded: 1726 | Location: Rabat, Malta

Fort Manoel

Fort Manoel is a star fort on Manoel Island built in the 18th century by the Order of Saint John. Fort Manoel has been on Malta"s tentative list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 1998, as part of the Knights" Fortifications around the Harbours of Malta. In the 16th century, the Marsamxett Harbour was one of the two major harbours in the Maltese city of Valletta. In the centre of the harbour was an island, or ...
Founded: 1723–1733 | Location: Gżira, Malta

Domus Romana

The small museum of the Domus Romana is built around the remains of a rich, aristocratic roman town house (domus) which was accidentally discovered in 1881. Although very little remains from the house itself, the intricate mosaics which survived for centuries as well as the artefacts found within the remains are testimony enough of the original richness and story of this fantastic abode. The building housing the remains ...
Founded: c. 75 BC | Location: Rabat, Malta

Hagar Qim

The temple of Ħaġar Qim stands on a hilltop overlooking the sea and the islet of Fifla. At the bottom of the hill, only 500m away, lies another remarkable temple site, Mnajdra found above the Southern cliffs. The surrounding landscape is typical Mediterranean garigue and spectacular in its starkness and isolation. First excavated in 1839, the remains suggest a date between 3600 – 3200 BC, a period known a ...
Founded: 3700-3200 BC | Location: Qrendi, Malta

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Königstein Fortress

Königstein Fortress is located on the left bank of the River Elbe. It is one of the largest hilltop fortifications in Europe. The 9.5 hectare rock plateau rises 240 metres above the Elbe and has over 50 buildings, some over 400 years old, that bear witness to the military and civilian life in the fortress. The rampart run of the fortress is 1,800 metres long with walls up to 42 metres high and steep sandstone faces. In the centre of the site is a 152.5 metre deep well, which is the deepest in Saxony and second deepest well in Europe.

The fortress, which for centuries was used as a state prison, is still intact and is now one of Saxony's foremost tourist attractions, with 700,000 visitors per year.

By far the oldest written record of a castle on the Königstein is found in a deed by King Wenceslas I of Bohemia dating to the year 1233. It is probable that there had been a stone castle on the Königstein as early as the 12th century. The oldest surviving structure today is the castle chapel built at the turn of the 13th century. In the years 1563 to 1569 the 152.5 metre deep well was bored into the rock within the castle - until that point the garrison of the Königstein had to obtain water from cisterns and by collecting rainwater.

Between 1589 and 1591/97 Prince-Elector Christian I of Saxony and his successor had the castle developed into the strongest fortification in Saxony. The hill was now surrounded with high walls. Buildings were erected, including the Gatehouse (Torhaus), the Streichwehr, the Old Barracks (Alte Kaserne), the Christiansburg (Friedrichsburg) and the Old Armoury (Altes Zeughaus). The second construction period followed from 1619 to 1681, during which the John George Bastion was built. The third construction period is seen as the time from 1694 to 1756, which included the expansion of the Old Barracks. From 1722 to 1725, at the behest of August the Strong, coopers under Böttger built the enormous Königstein Wine Barrel, the greatest wine barrel in the world, in the cellar of the Magdalenenburg which had a capacity of 249,838 litres. It cost 8,230 thalers, 18 groschen and 9 pfennigs. The butt, which was once completely filled with country wine from the Meißen vineyards, had to be removed again in 1818 due to its poor condition. Because of Böttger, Königstein Fortress is also the site where European porcelain started.

Even after the expansion during those periods of time there continued to be modifications and additions on the extensive plateau. The Treasury (Schatzhaus) was built from 1854 to 1855. After the fortress had been incorporated in 1871 into the fortification system of the new German Empire, battery ramparts were constructed from 1870 to 1895 with eight firing points, that were to have provided all-round defence for the fortress in case of an attack that, in the event, never came. This was at this time that the last major building work was done on the fortress.

Because Königstein Fortress was regarded as unconquerable, the Saxon monarchs retreated to it from Wittenberg and later Dresden during times of crisis and also deposited the state treasure and many works of art from the famous Zwinger here; it was also used as a country retreat due to its lovely surroundings.

The fortress played an important role in the History of Saxony, albeit less as a result of military action. The Saxon Dukes and Prince-Electors used the fortress primarily as a secure refuge during times of war, as a hunting lodge and maison de plaisance, but also as a dreaded state prison. Its actual military significance was rather marginal.

Since 1955 the fortress has been an open-air, military history museum of high touristic value.