The whole of Valletta is a World Heritage City which says something in itself. Even a flying visit will reap rewards as you soon discover the city's sunlit squares, rich history and numerous architectural gems.
The city largely owes its existence to the Knights of Malta, the Christian monks and crusaders who ruled the island between 1530 and 1798. Situated on the peninsula that controls the gates of Malta (a strip of land dividing the two deep and fine harbours, the Grand Harbour and Marsamxett Harbour) Valletta was built from scratch after victory against the Ottoman Empire in the Great Siege. The pope sent his chief architect Francesco Lapparelli to oversee the city, an innovative design that laid the city on a grid plan and decreed that each corner house had to have some sort of exterior decoration.
As the Ottoman threat receded in the 17th century, the Knights relapsed to their aristocratic roots and set about applying a makeover to Valletta. The result is a spate of baroque churches, most notable of which is St John's Co-Cathedral, a lavishly artistic church and home to Caravaggio's "The Beheading of St John".