Photographer's Note

Valletta, the capital city of Malta, is built on the northern half of the Sciberras peninsula, which separates the Grand Harbour from Marsamxett Harbour. The city is completely surrounded by fortifications and covers an area that is 900 meters by 630 meters The street plan is based on a more or less uniform grid. Republic Street divides one side of the city from the other and runs from Fort St. Elmo to the City Gate. Many of the streets that run parallel to Republic Street fall steeply as you get closer to the tip of the peninsula. Transverse street begin as flights of stairs at each end. The stairs do not conform to normal dimensions since they were constructed so as to allow knights in heavy armour to be able to climb the steps. The steps contributes towards the uniqueness of Valletta. Any irregularities that occur in the streets grid were imposed on it by the lie of the land and the need to have unhampered communications around the circuit of the fortifications.
Valletta was the brainchild of Grand Master Jean de la Valette. When the knights agreed, although reluctantly, to make Malta their headquarters, de la Valette quickly realized that they needed a defensible city to protect the island against the Turkish hordes that had driven them out of Rhodes and had followed them all the way to Malta. At the Grand Master's request, the Pope sent his own architect and Michelangelo's assistant, Francesco Laparelli, to Malta to help with the building of Valletta. Arriving in Malta on December 28th, 1565, he had the plans for the city drawn within three days. On March 28th, the new city was officially born. The inauguration ceremony was held on the site of the Porta Reale (the site of the entrance gates to Valletta) and the city was christened Valletta after the Grand Master. The bastions surrounding the city are impressive indeed but were never tested. Perhaps the Turkish generals realized that they were no match against the fortified city. The Grand Harbour is virtually lined with a string of bastions. Fort Sant' Elmo and Fort Ricasoli (the largest fort in the Commonwealth) protect the entrance to the harbour. Fort St. Angelo and the walls of Birgu and Senglea across the harbour shield its flank. The Grand Master died before the city was finished.
Towards the end of 1568, the Maltese architect and engineer, Gerolamo Cassar, took charge of the building of the city when Laparelli left for active service in Crete, where he died. Cassar and Laparelli laid out the street plan for the city. The first building that went up in the city is the Church of Our Lady of Victory, which commemorates the lifting of the Great Siege. Cassar designed all the auberges, the Magisterial Palace, the Conventual Church of St. John, the parish church of St. Paul, the churches of St. Mary of Porto Salvo, Carmine, St. Augustine and St. Mary of Jesus, and numerous other buildings and houses for the members of the order. Cassar died in 1586.

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Additional Photos by George Rumpler (Budapestman) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 8900 W: 3 N: 20435] (82620)
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