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Trail of the Knights

2 Day Tour
2 Day (7/8 hours each day)
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Stunning views from the Vedette in Senglea

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Tour Description

Day 1
Senglea, Birgu & Mdina

Follow the trail of the Knights on this excellent 2 day tour and discover how the Order changed our towns and villages, landscapes and cultures.

We start with a visit to Senglea, which is one of the ancient Three Cities situated on the Grand Harbour. Here we will visit the Vedette, one of many watchtowers constructed overlooking the Grand Harbour. Here you can admire views of the harbour and Valletta's magnificent bastions. We proceed onto Bormla, the second of the Three Cities before reaching the most important city known as Birgu or Vittoriosa. In 1530 when the Knights first arrived in Malta they went to the island's capital Mdina, but Grandmaster L'Isle Adam moved to Birgu just two years later and this is where they settled. Here we will go on a walking tour of the 'Collacchio', the historical centre of Birgu which is a maze of narrow winding streets. During our tour you will pass the original Auberges which the Knights lived in and the first hospital of the Order. We will visit St Joseph's Oratory which is a small church museum containing various relics of the Knights and other items of interest connected with the church and Birgu. The actual magisterial hat and sword used by Grandmaster de Valette during the Great Siege of 1565 have been recently restored and are exhibited here. At this point we make our way to the Birgu Waterfront. This is lined with majestic buildings because according to the Knights, visitors had perforce to approach Malta by sea and their assessment of the island was coloured by their first glimpse of its buildings which included beautiful and impressive palaces. Stores and warehouses were also built.

The second part of our tour takes us to the centre of Malta and the Medieval City of Mdina.

Mdina is built on a plateau in the centre of the island, the city's old Baroque buildings, cathedral and magnificent bastion walls dominate the rural skyline. Mdina, once the capital of Malta until the modern city of Valletta was built by the Knights had many names including Melite (Roman occupation), Medina (Arabic occupation), Citta Notabile and later Citta Vecchia (after Valletta was built). During our walking tour of Mdina we also include a visit to the Cathedral which dominates the main square of this walled city. It is a gem of baroque architecture which was built in 1694. During our tour you will also see other important buildings related to the period of the Knights.

Day 2
Valletta, Lija, Balzan, Attard & San Anton Gardens

We start the second day of our tour with a visit to Valletta. Valletta was built by the Knights of St. John in 1566 to further defend the harbour. The construction of the city was commissioned by Grandmaster de Valette. The Upper Barraka Gardens will be our first stop. From here one can see stunning views of the Grand Harbour and its impressive fortifications. This is followed by a walk through important streets so you can admire the beautiful Palaces and other historical buildings built during the period of the Knights. We will include an internal tour of some very important sites such as the magnificent St. John's Co- Cathedral, which was the church of the Order and also home to Caravaggio's masterpiece "Beheading of St. John" amongst other treasures and we will also visit the Grand Masters Palace with the State Rooms and the Armoury(this houses an impressive arms collection).

After a lunch break we continue with a drive through the three villages called Lija, Attard and Balzan. These charming villages surround the Presidential's Palace and San Anton Gardens. You will notice some magnificent private palazzos which were built during the 17th century. The Palace and surrounding gardens were built by Grandmaster Antoine de Paule who was proclaimed head of the Order in 1620.

© 2013 Joan Sheridan Freelance Tour Guide. All rights reserved.