The capital and chief port of Malta, the walled city of Valletta lies on the north coast of the island on the Sceberras Peninsula with a harbour on each side. Formerly an important British naval base, the dockyards have been converted for commercial use. It is the administrative, commercial and cultural centre. The city was designated a World Heritage Site in 1980.
In 1530 the island of Malta was granted to the Knights of St John of Jerusalem. The Ottoman Turks were defeated by the Knights following an invasion in 1565. In gratitude Pope Pius V and King Philip of Spain gave the Knights financial aid and the services of the Italian military engineer, Francesco Laparelli. The building of the fortress town, named after their Grand Master, Jean Parisot de Valette, commenced in 1566 and was completed 15 years later. Valletta’s streets were built on a grid pattern on the peninsula site of Mount Sceberras which provided two natural deep harbours, Marsamxett and Grand...