Valletta is a city built on a narrow peninsula and turned to the sea, originally planned strategically next to the Grand Harbor, the Grand Harbor, which together with Marsamxett together form the most important port in Malta.
It is a beautiful city, whose old part was declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco in 1980. Today we look at the best viewpoints on the Grand Port of Valletta to get unforgettable views of the capital of Malta.
The Grand Port has unloading docks and a cruise terminal, along the old maritime wall, the fortresses and the maritime facade of buildings dating from the 16th century, built during the time of the Knights Hospitallers, and several points of interest.
From the Barrakka High Gardens, the Barrakka Low Gardens and a peculiar watchtower in Senglea we dominate the Grand Harbor of Valletta from very different perspectives and take some of the best snapshots of the city.
Upper Barrakka Gardens
The Barrakka High Gardens (in Maltese, Il-Barrakka ta ‘Fuq) offer a panoramic view of the Grand Harbor. They were built in 1661 for the private use of the knights of the langue of Italy and opened to the public in 1824. They suffered serious damage during World War II, but nowadays they can be seen in all their splendor.
The Upper Barrakka Gardens are covered by trails, and abundant busts and statues, as the gardens were intended by British administrators to build monuments to illustrious personalities.
Before reaching the sea, on a lower level of the Bastion of San Pedro and San Pablo, there is a row of canyons. For centuries they served for naval defense, but at present, they only act to the delight of tourists: it is the Saluting Battery.
In this place every day at 12 o’clock, after a small ceremony, represented by volunteers dressed in uniforms of the 19th century of the Royal Artillery of Malta, a cannon is fired as a greeting.
From the top, you can see the ceremony perfectly. If we go around the gardens, we observe the entrance to the Port and the open sea, as well as at the other end we can also get a beautiful view of much of Valletta.
Lower Barrakka Gardens
We pass to the Barrakka Low Gardens (in Maltese, Il-Barrakka t’Isfel), which are in the outermost part of the port and, as the name implies, at a lower height than the previous gardens, which does not detract from them.
And these gardens also dominate the seawall and the Grand Harbor and offer views of Fort Ricasoli, Bighi Palace, Fort San Angel, and the Vittoriosa and Kalkara hills.
The gardens, which were originally private, have a fountain, benches to contemplate the views, several sculptures and two main monuments that stand by the sea as privileged spectators of coming and going in the port.
There is a monument commemorating World War II, a kind of temple that is accessed by a staircase and with a large bell inside, built-in 1992 in memory of the fallen between 1940 and 1943 at the initiative of the Association of the Cross from San Jorge.
It is the Malta Siege Memorial or World War II Memorial, designed by Michael Sandle, which also drew up the great sculpture of the unknown soldier that lies as if it were on a grave.
Both from the Gardens above and from those below we can see a spectacular sunset, with the Three Cities as the background of the canvas.
Vedette viewpoint: the watchtower in Senglea
We change our perspective crossing the port to get a panoramic view of Valletta from the front, from the Three Cities, specifically from Senglea. There we can peek into the watchtower over the Grand Port of Valletta.
There, at the end of the small peninsula that enters Valletta Bay, are * the Safe Haven Gardens of Senglea. The city takes its name from Grand Master Claude De La Single. At the end of the quiet garden is the watchtower with several symbols of the sculptured Knights: the eye that should always be open, the ear that should always be attentive.
This point is known locally as “il-Gardjola” and also as “Vedette”, a term of English origin that comes from the Latin “videre”, ‘see’, ‘watch’ and that we can literally translate as ‘sentinel’: that era the “checkpoint” of the lookouts at a privileged point.
The tower was built by the Knights of San Juan and is part of the fortifications of the Grand Harbor. From the tranquility of this viewpoint, we look at the transfer of the Grand Harbor and Valletta and, of course, we distinguish the two lookout gardens of which we have spoken.
With luck, you can enjoy not one but several viewpoints on the Grand Harbor of Malta and take unforgettable snapshots.