Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Week 41: Malta

Umm, where is Malta?

I'm glad you asked. ;)  Get a map of the world.  Go ahead, I'll wait.  Ready?  Now find Italy (the boot), then Sicily (the rock that the boot is kicking), then look south a little - see that little dot??  That's Malta!  A teeny- tiny little group of islands in the Mediterranean Sea. 

The most Southern country in Europe and also a place more packed with historical sites than possibly anywhere else in the world.  The whole of the capital city of Valletta ( 35.90°N/ 14.51°E) is considered a World Heritage Site.

Valletta - Capital of Malta
Since the first people immigrated there from Sicily in about 5,000 BC, the citizens have been raising livestock, growing grains and living off the sea.  There is some evidence, like underwater archways and structures, that support the idea that the legendary city of Atlantis was actually another of the islands in the Malta archipelago! 

The location of the islands and the natural deep harbors made Malta a very prized strategic location for both the North Africans and the Greeks and Romans.   In 1530, the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V, gave control of Malta to the Order of the Knights of St. John.  The knights built a renowned hospital, churches, fortresses and greatly expanded maritime trade for the islands.  Their reign was considered Malta's "Golden Period".  The Knights ruled the islands from 1530 until 1798, when Napoleon Bonaparte attacked and won control of the country.  Luckily, many of the historical buildings and fortified villages still remain standing for tourists and visitors to see.  

Malta is an interesting country considering it's size.  I'm intrigued to learn more and I hope you are too.  I've got a great sounding recipe to make and a lesson in speaking Maltese.  We are going to make a Maltese Cross, and maybe watch the Maltese Falcon!!
Stay tuned :)   

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