• Registration Year


  • Registered Sector

    City of Valetta

  • Historical Function

    Defense (land and sea).

  • Administrative Status

    National capital.

Location and site

The old city of Valletta is constructed on a site that extends out to the sea and is divided into two harbours, each of which is well protected. In the centre of the Mediterranean Sea, near Sicily, Valletta was at the crossroads of major maritime routes.

Urban Morphology

Despite the division of Valletta in two parts, the network of streets is laid out in an orthogonal grid dominated by a main artery which crosses the length of the entire city and opens up into the series of squares at its geometric centre, surrounding the Palace of the Grand Masters. As was the case of the fortifications that run alongside the perimeter road, the layout is inspired by Italian Renaissance planning principles, and serves as an early model of urban design.

Open and closed arches and balconies make up the urban landscape of golden limestone. The buildings constructed by the Knights of Malta - including the Palace of the Grand Masters, the Cathedral, inns, etc. - are carefully integrated into the ensemble. The influences of recent embellishments have not altered the original harmony of this fortified site, which is exceptional for the density of its monuments.

Registration Criteria

Valletta "is pre-eminently an ideal creation of the Late Renaissance with its uniform urban plan, inspired by neo-platonic principles, its fortified and bastioned walls modeled around the natural site and the voluntary implantation of great monuments in well chosen locations." (I) It is "irrevocably linked with the history of the military and charitable order of St. John of Jerusalem which founded the city in 1566 and maintained it throughout two and a half centuries. Valletta is, thus, associated with the history of one of the greatest military and moral forces of modern Europe. Moreover the state of preservation of its well-constructed patrimony serves to make Valletta an example of historic conservation on a universal scale." (VI)

Historical Reference

  • The Island of Malta has occupied a strategic position on the Mediterranean Sea since ancient times. It was taken over by a succession of rulers, including the Phoenicians in the 10 century B.C., the Greeks during the 8th century B.C., and the Carthaginians in the 4th century B.C. In 218 B.C., it was annexed by the Romans.
  • Malta was conquered by the Byzantines in 533 A.D. and by the Arabs in 869. In 1530, Charles-Quint conceded the island to the Order of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem, who had been chased from the Island of Rhodes by the Turks. This order, which became the Knights of Malta, undertook the construction of fortifications to protect itself from Turkish invasions.
  • A battle in the 16th century led to further opposition between the Knights of Malta and the Turks. It was following the Great Siege and the victory of the Knights in 1566 that Valletta was founded.
Dr. Alexiei Dingli
City Hall of Valletta
31 South Street
VLT 11 Valletta, Malta
+356 21 234141
+356 21 234323
Ms. Mireille Fsadni
Executive Coordinator
Rehabilitation Projects Office
210, Republic Street
VLT 1118 Valetta, Malta


Dr. Ray Bondin
Commité International pour les villes et villages historiques (CIVVIH)
185 Triq l-Ifran
Valletta, Malta


Arq. Claude Borg
Valletta Rehabilitation Project
210 Republic Street
VLT 03 Valletta, Malta