Historic, Cultural and Maritime city
Excluding the headland comprising Fort St. Angelo, the City covers an area of about 175,000 square metres. The Phoenicians, the first known settlers to occupy the Island, reputedly erected at Birgu a temple dedicated to their tutelary goddess, ASTARTE.
Vittoriosa Wharf can be considered as the cradle of the history of Birgu. The fortifications of Birgu are possibly the most ancient of their kind in Malta.
During World War Two, Vittoriosa became the target of enemy action. Various historical building and sites were demolished and parts of the city were rebuilt on modern lines. Within the confines of its bastions, the population of Vittoriosa tended to grow in line with the increased maritime activity.
|Area Total:||0.8 km2 (0.3 sq mi)|
|Elevation:||56 m (184 ft)|
|Valletta is the capital city of Malta and a World Heritage site. It is located in the central-eastern portion of the island of Malta, and the historical city has a population of 6,966. Valletta is the second southernmost capital of the EU member states. Valletta contains buildings from the 16th century onwards, built during the rule of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, also known as Knights Hospitaller. It is a living experience of Baroque architecture, a monument donated by the Knights of St John nearly five centuries ago. Throughout the years, Valletta has welcomed emperors, heads of state, artists and poets and is now the permanent seat of the Maltese government. The City of Valletta was officially recognised as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1980.
The city was named for Jean Parisot de la Valette, who succeeded in defending the island from an Ottoman invasion in 1565. The official name given by the Order of Saint John was Humilissima Civitas Valletta — The Most Humble City of Valletta, or Città Umilissima in Italian.
Dotted with quaint cafés and wine bars, the city is today one of Malta’s main tourist attractions, hosting among others, the majestic St John’s Co-Cathedral, the imposing bastions and a treasure of priceless paintings. It also provides a stunning snapshot of Malta’s Grand Harbour, often described as the most beautiful in the Mediterranean.
The city’s unique setting nowadays plays host to a series of cultural events, from theatre in English, to concerts by leading opera singers.
A hive of business activity during the day, the city switches to a slower gear for the night. Use it to your advantage to get away from the noise and take a stroll to admire the magic of the fortified capital amplified by the gentle lighting. Admire the bastion walls, the dense clusters of worn limestone buildings, the timber balconies, and imposing Churches.
On Friday, 12 October 2012, Valletta was unanimously named European Capital of Culture (ECoC) for 2018, by a jury of experts, following a presentation by the Valletta 2018 Foundation.
Berwick-upon-Tweed is the most northerly town in England. It lies less than 4km south of the border with Scotland. However, over the centuries, the town has changed hands between the two nations on at least 13 occasions.
In 1296, Edward I of England captured Berwick-upon-Tweed, which began a period of three centuries of almost constant warfare between the English and the Scots. It fell to the English for the final time in 1482.
The town’s railway station now occupies the site of the once-mighty Berwick Castle, although some of its towers and curtain wall have survived. Parts of the medieval town walls are also still standing. The sections facing the River Tweed and the entrance to the Port of Berwick were rebuilt and strengthened with new gun emplacements in the 18th century, to meet the threat from the French.
The most impressive feature of Berwick-upon-Tweed is its circuit of 16th century ramparts and bastions, constructed between 1558 and 1570 in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I of England. The Elizabethan fortifications comprise five arrow-shaped bastions connected by 15 metre thick earth ramparts faced with stone.
Unlike other walled towns in England, the fortifications of Berwick-upon-Tweed are complete. The town avoided the fate of other towns and cities where sections of ancient walls were demolished in the 1960s to make way for new roads or housing. The entire circuit can be walked easily in about 40 minutes and the ramparts and bastions afford magnificaent views of the historic townscape and along the valley of the River Tweed and the coastline of Northumberland towards Bamburgh Castle and the Holy Island of Lindisfarne.
The Union of the Crowns of England and Scotland in 1603 brought an end to the conflict between the two countries, but Berwick remained a garrison town until 1964. The first infanry barracks in England were opened in the town in 1721 and it remained the Regimental Headquarters of the King’s Own Scottish Borderers until 2006.
Today, the borderlands around Berwick-upon-Tweed are among the most peaceful and least spoiled by modern development in our country. Berwick-upon-Tweed is one of only six towns in the United Kingdom to have achieved the status of a Cittaslow town.
For more information about the town, its history and its superb fortifications visit the website of Cittaslow Berwick-upon-Tweed at www.berwick-cittaslow.org.uk