Victory Day in Valletta
Today we're visiting Valletta, the capital of Malta, where the Maltese people are celebrating Victory Day. The national holiday commemorates the end of three historic sieges made on the Maltese archipelago—the Great Siege of Malta, which took place in 1565; the Siege of Valletta by the French, which ended in 1800; and the Siege of Malta during the Second World War by German and Italian forces. The WWII Siege of Malta ended in 1942, after nearly two and a half years of devastating air attacks. King George VI of the United Kingdom, which then ruled the island, awarded Malta the George Cross 'for the heroism and devotion of its people' during the great siege. The George Cross was incorporated into the flag of Malta in 1943 and remains there today.
The Maltese people typically celebrate Victory Day with cultural activities like literary readings, music and theatrical performances, and a regatta in the Grand Harbour, seen here. The armed forces parade on Republic Street in Valletta, ending at St. John's Co-Cathedral, where they salute the prime minister and the Maltese anthem is performed. The cathedral holds a mass for the highest-ranking officers and the president places a symbolic garland at the foot of the monument of the Siege of Malta to commemorate the victims of World War II.
Valletta (/vəˈlɛtə/, Maltese: il-Belt Valletta, Maltese pronunciation: [vɐˈlːɛtːɐ]) is the capital city of Malta. Located in the South Eastern Region of the main island, between Marsamxett Harbour to the west and the Grand Harbour to the east, its population in 2014 was 6,444, while the metropolitan area around it has a population of 393,938. Valletta is second only to Nicosia as the southernmost capital of Europe, and at just 0.61 square kilometres (61 ha), it is the European Union's smallest capital city.
Valletta's 16th-century buildings were constructed by the Knights Hospitaller. The city was named after Jean Parisot de Valette, who succeeded in defending the island from an Ottoman invasion during the Great Siege of Malta. The city is Baroque in character, with elements of Mannerist, Neo-Classical and Modern architecture, though the Second World War left major scars on the city, particularly the destruction of the Royal Opera House. The city was officially recognised as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1980.
The city is noted for its fortifications, consisting of bastions, curtains and cavaliers, along with the beauty of its Baroque palaces, gardens and churches.
Population: 5,827 (2019)
Area: 8,611,128 sq feet