Walk number 2 today. Valletta peninsula. A no-brainer with the transport for this one as we will start and finish at the same point. Therefore I parked at the MCP carpark just outside the gates of Valletta.
We started the walk at the Triton fountain which is just outside Valletta City Gates. It has recently been restored and only opened last week so this was the first time I had seen the statue in all it’s glory. It makes a very impressive entrance to the city with three bronze tritons holding up a platter and jets of water shooting up from the platter and the sides. I haven’t done it justice at all in this picture but it was quite overcast as we started.
Taco and I entered through Valletta City Gates a to start our walk. Ahead of us is a sea of red and gold flags which were been put up for the opening of the Valletta 2018, Capital of Culture. It’s tempting to head into the centre of Valletta and see what’s going on but I remind myself that I’m on a mission to do this walk around the edge (and on a deadline with my school pickup). So Taco and I headed straight up the grand stone steps to our left and head to the edge of the peninsula. Here’s Taco at the bottom of the steps and looking quite tired already! Come on Taco!
At the top of the stairs are Hastings Gardens – small gardens with a war memorial and some great views over to Sliema, Tigne Point and Fort Manoel. This view was particularly interesting because I could see exactly where we had walked last time. Wow – we walked far! And that was only the last bit… Starring at the high rise apartments of Sliema I wonder – is it better to live in Sliema with views of historic Valletta. Or live in Valletta amongst the historic buildings with views of the high rise apartments in Sliema? Probably it’s just better to live in San Gwann and view a nice valley… anyway.. on with the walk.
Valletta is a city with a high wall around it so I’m walking inside the wall mainly high up rather than down at sea level. Mainly because I want the views and also because I’m not sure if you can walk round at sea level all the way. We started to follow along the wall and looking forward towards the end of the peninsula got a beautiful view of the whole city. Below in the photo you can see the domed roof of the Carmelite Church which dates back to the 16th century. To the left of the Church you can see St Paul’s Pro-Cathedral with its tall tower which was built later in the 19th Century.
We continue on our way passing the Sliema /Valletta ferry terminal and a very uninviting disused sea pool…
A bit further along and we can actually walk down onto the beach. Taco gets five minutes off the lead barking at cats (who were enjoying a nice sleep up until now) and I get to photograph some pretty fisherman cottages.
We continue on towards the end of the peninsula and cut across the top by Fort St Elmo and the National War museum. This section I know better having walked it a few times. We continue along to the impressive Siege Bell War Memorial which is a huge bell tower and the Sleeping Soldier Memorial. The Bell was installed in 1992 to mark the 50th anniversary of the awarding of the St George Cross to the island of Malta during WWII. The unusual huge bronze solider represents ‘the burial of the corpse of the unknown solider at sea’ and if you stand back he kind of looks like he’s floating at sea. Climbing up to the top of the bell tower I have a stunning view across the Grand Harbour.
We stroll along to the lower Barrakka Gardens and gaze across the water at the impressive three fortified cities. This is where the next walk will be. Hmmmm, three peninsulas…
Finally we head to the upper Barrakka Gardens and from here you can see the Saluting Battery which overlooks Fort St Angelo and the Grand Harbour. There are 8 working replica cannons which fire at 12noon and 4pm everyday (a good tourist outing which the kids enjoy). There’s a little bit of space to roam around these public gardens and plenty of pigeons for Taco to bark at. Here we take the lift down to sea level, Lascaris Wharf (Taco was a bit freaked out in the lift) walk past the Valletta Sea Ferry Terminal and then headed along to Valletta Waterfront in Floriana. Valletta Waterfront consists of a string of restaurants and bars and the main ferry terminal so it serves the cruise liners that dock as well as tourists. However it’s quite pretty as the buildings are all restored 18th century stores and warehouses.
To finish our walk we had to double back on ourselves a bit. We cut through the road leading into Floriana outside the entrance to the city gates. The sun had really come out and it was a beautiful January day (is this really winter??). We found the Triton Fountain where we’d stared the walk and had a drink of water (from a waterbottle not the fountain). Taco looked really knackered and I was quite tired too. We actually walked for 2 1/2 hours but we spent about 35 minutes at the beginning trying to find a good place to start the walk (lesson to be learnt there…). So really the walk was just under 2 hours. Of course you could make a lot of stops on this walk as there is so much to see. Walk no. 2 complete. Next time the three cities….