For the past 6,000 years Malta has been a point of encounter for a host of people. From the Arabs to the Knights of the Order of St. John, the French, and the British, each have left their impact on the creation of a rich, historical heritage and culture, which is, also uniquely Maltese.
Malta’s strategic setting at the crossroads of the Mediterranean has always played a crucial role in the island’s history. Over the centuries, the great Mediterranean powers have fought to dominate the islands, each new arrival leaving its legacy. What you see today is a complex blend of ethnic influences. The Arabs introduced citrus trees and the flat-topped houses, and they laid the foundations for the Maltese language. The Aragonese, from central Spain, left their mark in the medieval architecture of Malta’s historic town centers and the enclosed wooden balconies which typify the splendid town houses.
Under the rule of the Knights of St. John, Malta blossomed into a major cultural centre. The buildings they put up touched on almost every sphere of human activity, from water distribution to heavy fortifications. By the time the British arrived, Malta was at the forefront of European culture.
Malta’s long Christian tradition dates from AD60 when St. Paul was shipwrecked on the island. In spite of Islamic and other cultural influences, Catholicism has always been a dominant force in Maltese life, influencing social, political and even economic issues. Around 87 per cent of Maltese are regular churchgoers – a higher percentage than in any other country in Europe. The village feast, celebrating the local patron saint, plays an essential role in cementing community spirit and there is intense rivalry between the different parishes that compete to mount the most spectacular parades and fireworks displays.
As a result of Malta’s history with foreign rulers and passers by, it is not surprising that our people enjoy an innate sense of hospitality, for the benefit of their visitors. Wherever you’re based in Malta, cultural choice is close by and is waiting to be discovered and experienced by you.