There certainly is a lot to see and be captivated by in Malta. The photograph to the right is of a restaurant in Vittoriosa, one of the Three Cities that line the Grand Harbour in Malta. On the other side of the harbour (the Mediterranean’s deepest natural harbour) stands Valletta – an ancient city full of history, religion and intrigue.
Locations like that restaurant – that look like they could have come from a movie set – are almost everywhere in Malta. In the older parts of the country, there are literally historic locations and fabulous settings down almost every alleyway. Locations such as Valletta, Mdina, the Three Cities and Mosta have features that can capture the imagination of anyone.
Since Malta is such a religious country, the major churches play a huge role in providing this charm and character. The giant domed church in Mosta – for example – needs to be seen to be believed. In terms of size and scale, it is easily on a par with the Pantheon in Rome. Whether you are religious or not, it is impossible to doubt the power of faith when you see such an amazing building. In case you are not aware, Malta is a Catholic country.
Much of the island’s history is tied into the great powers of Europe and their wars. The Knights of Malta were drawn from the wealthiest and most powerful families in Europe to build and defend Malta. It’s strategic location meant that defending the island was a good first step to defending the rest of the continent. For this reason, parts of Malta have unusual European names (such as Manoel Island, named after a Portugese Grandmaster) and much of Valletta was originally built with the money of these foreign benefactors. Thus, the walls of Valletta have appropriate names – such as the French Curtain and the English Curtain. Similarly, parts of St John’s Co-Cathedral have national names and funding. In fact, there are parts of the Cathedral, currently being restored, with funding provided by modern day governments from around Europe. The German and Italian governments have such projects, for example.
All this history means that there are little hideaways and wonderfully photogenic areas in all sorts of places. Valletta certainly has many wonderful locations for a camera enthusiast (like this fellow) and when combined with good weather and – typically – strong sunshine, the light can be excellent for taking some shots.
It isn’t just churches and defensive walls that provide the buildings in Malta. There are many, many lovely homes on the island. Of course, as with everywhere in the world, there are many that aren’t quite so charming as well… Again, the older cities such as Valletta and Mdina play host to many incredible buildings in their narrow streets that have now been turned into residential property or commercial offices (the offices are mostly in Valletta).
Some of the properties in Malta are termed as a ‘house of character‘ and can offer a lot to the buyer. These are typically found in the more open spaces and smaller towns to the west west and south west of the island where land is more available.
Unfortunately, almost every street in the country seems to be blighted by unfinished and empty properties. This is especially true of many apartment buildings where it seems as though two or three of every ten properties built lays empty. Some parts of the island resemble unfinished building sites. This, it has to be said, is not Malta’s finest point.
Yet, there is a lot of property that is very well finished with lovely sea views. Some of the best apartments have amazing sea views – such as the Tigne Point complex (click here for details) which overlooks both the sea and Valletta. These types of upper market properties can be found – along with everything else – by speaking to real estate agents in Malta. If you happen to already own one of these lovely apartments, or something similar, and find the management a pain, then speak to an expert like Lisa Inglis.
One of the charms of Malta to tourists is the location. It is so far south – by European standards – that the weather is pretty much guaranteed to be good throughout summer – and summer is very long! Typically, the weather is very acceptable from late April until at least early November – if not longer. For example, your author took his last swim in the sea in 2011 on December 12th. It was not particularly warm, but no worse than the coast of southern England in July!
One factor that makes the country so appealing to many is it’s combination of English speaking population, it’s British heritage – at times it feels like 1950s Britain – and membership of the European Union. The ease that the EU provides to people wishing to travel (Malta is part of the Schengen zone) is a real plus point for the tourism sector. Malta doesn’t really have much clout in the EU yet – it is very small and joined relatively recently after all. It needs to find some more elected Maltese politicians in positions of authority before that happens.
This “Englishness” has many more benefits than just for tourism though. There are many areas of Maltese business that benefit from having a legal system that is in English, based on English Common Law and within the EU. For financial transactions (investment management, banking, trusts, etc) there is a great deal of trust worldwide. While it might be a fluke of history, it is a valuable fluke.
For businesses, this offers a number of interesting opportunities. For example, Malta has one of the largest shipping registries in the world. Vessels from across the globe are registered in the country for purposes of beneficial taxation rates and insurance rules. Likewise, there is a growing reputation in the country for aviation. Having made the shipping registry a success, the government has passed laws in the hope that an aviation registry will grow into something similar. This is, of course, good news for law firms, accountants, auditors and company directors.