Culture and Heritage
With 7,000 years of history, the Maltese Islands are steeped in culture and heritage.
This historic legacy, unique in the Mediterranean, is reflected in the country’s national architecture and collections. There are so many areas of heritage and culture to be explored – the 16th century masterpiece Grandmasters’ Palace, the “Sacra Infermeria”, which is now a fully equipped conference centre, the St. James Centre for Creativity – a superbly restored fortification where contemporary works of art are exhibited against the original rough-textured walls and rediscovered spaces. With these buildings, past and present blend into an enduring and admirable lesson in the art of living.
The arts have always played a large role in Maltese culture and continue to do so with cultural events occurring frequently. The National Museum of Fine Arts, housed in an exuberant Rococo building dating from the 1570’s, exhibits some magnificent art, ranging from the early Renaissance to modern times. Both established and budding artists are encouraged to display their efforts through publicly-supported programs. There is always an exhibition of some kind running.
Theatre and music are also very popular in the Islands. A variety of theatres – including the Valletta’s Manoel Theatre and two opera houses in Victoria (Gozo) – as well as several open-air venues offer wide selection of plays, musicals, operas and concerts.
One of the joys of being on The Maltese Islands is that, no matter where you are, you’re never far from one of the many magnificent beaches or secluded little coves.
There is a choice of both sandy and rocky beaches on the Islands, offering practical areas for the family, scenic spots for the romantics, serene areas for those in want of peace and spots for those who are interested in a bit of summer sports fun.
The Maltese coastal waters are generally clean and safe for swimming as there are no tides and the sea temperature averages around 22.8C in summer. Annual rainfall is low, averaging 578mm a year and the length of the dry season in summer is even longer than in neighbouring Italy.
Malta’s climate is strongly influenced by the sea so the Islands have a very sunny climate with a daily average of more than twelve hours of sunshine in summer and five to six hours in mid-winter.
Summers are hot but often mitigated by cooling sea breezes. June is the ideal time of year to come for sun and sea as the summer season is just getting into full swing and it’s not too hot. July through September are the peak summer months (temperature average: 30C/86F) while August is the hottest and busiest month of summer (average temperature: 40C/104F).
Swimming is possible well in to the Autumn months and the peak beach season can last until mid to late October, which is a great time to visit as the temperatures are bearable, the sun still shines, but the Islands are less populated and more serene.
Spring is a season full of surprises; a touch of rain, some beautiful crisp days and others that are perfect for spending on the beach.
Although Winters are mild, swimming from November to February is not recommended as the water and air tends to be quite fresh, especially when north or north-easterly winds blow from central Europe.