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TravelMalta: Cultural and movie history all on one Mediterranean island

17:45  18 september  2019
17:45  18 september  2019 Source:   usatoday.com

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Malta : Mediterranean island is a citadel of many cultures and a popular filming locale. Malta , a strategic and much fought-over rock midway between The island even holds appeal even for those who are more movie or TV fans than history buffs. It was used as a Season 1 location for HBO's

Malta has a long history and was first inhabited in around 5900 BC. The first inhabitants were farmers, and their agricultural methods degraded the soil until the islands became uninhabitable.

Malta: Cultural and movie history all on one Mediterranean island
Malta: Cultural and movie history all on one Mediterranean island
Malta: Cultural and movie history all on one Mediterranean island
Malta: Cultural and movie history all on one Mediterranean island
Malta: Cultural and movie history all on one Mediterranean island

Sailing into the stony harbor of the island of Malta, surrounded by ramparts and turrets, you realize that this strategic and much fought-over rock midway between Sicily and Africa has had a long and difficult history. But its parade of foreign rulers (Phoenician, Roman, Greek, Arab, Norman, Sicilian, and British — to name a few) make it a fascinating place to explore today.

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The following is a list describing the islands located in the Mediterranean Sea.

The Mediterranean Sea was the central superhighway of transport, trade and cultural exchange between diverse peoples encompassing three continents: Western Asia, North Africa, and Southern Europe.

The imposing capital city of Valletta is a monument to this hard-fought past. Government buildings seem to demand obedience. Walking on the ramparts of the heavily fortified harbor, I'm reminded of Malta's importance — whoever controls Malta controls trade routes across the Mediterranean.

Malta: Cultural and movie history all on one Mediterranean island© Laura Bly/USA TODAY Malta retains its British flavor with English-style pubs and food, statues of queens, driving on the left, and even red phone booths.

Of the many cultures that shaped it, perhaps the most obvious is its British heritage. Malta spent 150 years as part of the British Empire. In World War II it was a key allied naval base before it was devastated by German bombs. (Much of it has been rebuilt in recent years.) And while it gained its independence in 1964, Malta retains its British flavor with English-style pubs and food, statues of queens, driving on the left, and even red phone booths.

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Malta is a Southern European Island Country consisting of an archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea. It’s very close to Italy (Sicily) and Africa (Tunisia). It’s the first city I visited as soon as I arrived. Valletta contains essentially baroque buildings of 16th century onwards mixed with modern architecture.

The Republic of Malta , or Malta for short, is a small group of islands in the warm Mediterranean Sea, close to the southern shores of Sicily. Activities in Malta range from cycling and walking to some of the finest scuba diving in the Mediterranean . There are also exciting shore excursions for cruise

Aside from its British vibe, Valletta has a distinct fortress-city feel, thanks to the Knights of St. John (a.k.a. the Knights of Malta). For centuries, these religious/military knights were based on the island of Rhodes in the eastern Mediterranean. In 1523 they were defeated by the Ottoman Turks, so they retreated to Malta, where they set up their new capital and built a huge fortress in anticipation of another Turkish attack. In 1565 Malta's stout walls — many of them incorporated into existing limestone cliffs — survived a siege of 40,000 Ottoman soldiers. Today, a good way to get a sense of this fortress city is with a tour of the harbor in a dgħajsa — a Maltese gondola.

From 1530 to 1798, the Knights of Malta ruled the island. During this era, known as the "Knight's Period," they ornamented the city with delightful architecture, including the colorful, characteristic enclosed balconies, called gallarija. The stately Grand Masters' Palace was one of the first buildings they constructed.

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This was filmed over a number of Visits to Malta , I have tried to cover the whole islands , showing what there is to see in this really beautiful place.

Malta is the largest of the three major islands that constitute the Maltese archipelago. It is sometimes referred to as Valletta for statistical purposes to distinguish the main island from the entire country.

Another grand structure from this period is St. John's Co-Cathedral, one of Malta's two cathedrals. While austere outside, it's fabulously baroque inside. Inlaid marble slabs honor several hundred Knights of Malta. This military order was divided into eight language groups — and each had a chapel here at the order's high church.

Paintings tell the 17th-century story of how the Knights were originally "serving knights," whose mission was to care for pilgrims venturing to the Holy Land, and how they later evolved into a military power with a mighty navy. They also depict how Christianity would ultimately "triumph" over Islam. A cathedral highlight is The Beheading of St. John the Baptist, the largest canvas ever painted by the artist Caravaggio, who fled Rome in 1606 after killing his opponent in a duel, eventually ending up in Malta.

Within a short drive (or bus ride) from Valletta are low-key sights, from charming towns with oversized churches and laid-back locals to tiny, remote harbors hiding out along the rugged coastline. The hillsides are studded with family farms — some with terraces that have been here since ancient times. The terraces' rock walls defend against erosion. Without them, the thin layer of topsoil would be lost to the steady Mediterranean wind.

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Malta , the largest island , and her sister islands Gozo, Comino, Filfla, are strategically placed in the narrow channel joining the eastern and the western basins of the Mediterranean . Located at the crossroads in the Mediterranean , between Southern Europe and North Africa, between Western

The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by the Mediterranean Basin and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Southern Europe and Anatolia

The timeless landscape is dotted with prehistoric ruins dating back 5,000 years. Megalithic sites like Ħaġar Qim are evidence that, in roughly 3000 BC, settlers from Sicily arrived in search of arable land. While the humble, mud-brick village that once surrounded its temple is long gone, stones from the temple still stand. Archaeologists believe it was dedicated to a fertility goddess and that it functioned as a celestial calendar, much like Stonehenge. Artifacts from this and other prehistoric sites are housed in the National Museum of Archaeology in Valletta.

Near Ħaġar Qim is the fisherman's harbor of Marsaxlokk. A favorite with cruise travelers, it's home to a fleet of typical Maltese fishing boats. While Marsaxlokk has a fine main square and church, the action is along the harbor – especially during the Sunday fish market. The distinctive shape of the boats goes back eight centuries before Christ to when Malta was a Phoenician colony. These colorful boats pop in the dazzling sunlight, seeming to celebrate yet another unique heritage of the Mediterranean world.

The island even holds appeal even for those who are more movie or TV fans than history buffs. It was used as a Season 1 location for HBO's "Game of Thrones," with the Azure Window rock formation (which has since collapsed) serving as a backdrop to the wedding of Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) and Khal Drogo (Jason Momoa).

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Little-known Malta sits in the middle of the Mediterranean , about 50 miles south of Sicily, 200 north of Libya. Just 122 square miles, this archipelago of five islands -- three inhabited -- is full of history , much of it involving A triumphal gate marks the entrance to the walled city of Mdina, Malta 's first capital.

The culture of Malta is the result of the many different societies that came in contact with the Maltese Islands throughout history , including cultures of neighbouring Arab influences are very apparent in the Maltese language and perhaps a bit in the Mediterranean diet, but they’re not seen anywhere else.

Prior to the show's move to Croatia, Malta also also supplied several locations used to depict King's Landing and the Red Keep. The gardens at St. Dominic's Monastery in Rabat provided the backdrop to Cersei Lannister's (Lena Headey) memorable "when you play the Game of Thrones, you win or you die" speech to Ned Stark Sean Bean).

According to IMDB, Malta has served as a filming location for the films "Gladiator" (2002) , "Munich" (2005), "The Da Vinci Code" (2006), "Clash of the Titans" (1981),  "Captain Phillips" (2013), "13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi" (2016)  and "Murder on the Orient Express" (2017). Brad Pitt has shot three projects there: "Troy" (2004) "World War Z" (2013) and "By the Sea" (2015).

A visit to Malta is one more vivid example of how you can never exhaust Europe of its fascinating sights. And, as with any great Mediterranean destination, the cruise ship crowds may congest its most famous attractions, but the rewards are great for those who understand some of the history of the place they're exploring and take the initiative to venture away from the crowds – to the lonesome stone circles, desolate castle ruins, and inviting back lanes.

Contributing: Jayme Deerwester, USA TODAY

Malta: Cultural and movie history all on one Mediterranean island
Malta: Cultural and movie history all on one Mediterranean island
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