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Valletta refers to the fortified peninsular area of the greater conurbation which includes Sliema, Gzira, St Julians and Paceville. It is full of steep, narrow streets and thick defensive walls. Valletta was the command post of General Eisenhower during the war, and it's still possible to visit his office in the war rooms deep within the rock on which the city is built.

I spent two nights in the Valletta area, staying at the Imperial Hotel in Sliema which had seen better days but was cheap and cheerful in a faded glory sort of way. Valletta is beginning to see the benefits of the EU, there is much restoration underway.

Valletta skyline

Valletta as seen from the Strand in Sliema. The domed building is the St Francis of Assisi Church.

Some of the defensive structures at Fort St Elmo at the very tip of the Valletta peninsula. Some scenes from the infamous "Midnight Express" film were shot here. Mention it to a Turk at your peril.

Fort St Elmo

Upper Barrakka Gardens

Looking towards the Upper Barrakka Gardens area from the Lower Barrakka Gardens.

The central conduit of Valletta, Republic Street, leading past St John's Co Cathedral to Republic Square.

Republic Street, Valletta

Republic Square

Republic Square has some very nice cafes and is the perfect place to sit, read and soak up some sun, which is exactly what I did.

Lower Barrakka Gardens has a monument to Alexander Ball, an 18th century British admiral, later governor of Malta. I really liked how peaceful it was.

Lower Barrakka Gardens

Valletta density

Valletta is a very dense city, as can be seen from this picture. Few other places I have visited match it for crowdedness - possibly Macau or maybe Beirut.

The war museum near St Elmo's Fort contains all sorts of memorabila dropped on the city by the Italians and the Germans. It also has a Gloster Gladiator biplane, the type flown by Roald Dahl in North Africa during the war.

St Elmo's Fort war museum

Maltese buses

Malta is teeming with these colourful old-school (but not school) buses, which make up the bulk of the public transport system. There are no trains in the country.

A more sedate, and certainly more environmentally friendly method of transport can be taken if desired.

Horse and cart in Valletta

Valletta fortifications

Valletta is built on some very massive rock formations, a channel has been cut out here, part of which accommodates a car park. There are networks of underground tunnels within the walls.

One of the steep streets in the centre of Valletta, great for practising clutch control. I speak from experience.

Valletta steep street

Bunks in tunnels under Valletta

Inside the tunnels beneath the city, there are still fold-down bunks in place as used by the citizens for shelter during extended wartime air raids.

Lewis of Resting Souls, the statue by the bell tower of Valletta, looking across the harbour to the south.

Lewis of Resting Souls statue

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Copyright © Ross Wattie 2007-2015