The Theatre was built in 1731 by António Manoel de Vilhena, Grand Master of the Knights of Malta. He commissioned and personally funded the construction of this central building to keep the young knights of the Order of St. John out of mischief but also to provide the general public with "honest entertainment". This motto, "ad honestam populi oblectationem" is inscribed above the main entrance to the theatre. The first ever performance was Scipione Maffei’s La Merope on 19th January 1732.
Teatru Manoel was originally known as Teatro Pubblico. Under British rule it became the Theatre Royal, a title it lost in 1866 to its new rival, the much larger Royal Opera House, which was heavily damaged in World War II.
As Malta’s national theatre, the Manoel, as it is affectionately referred to by locals, is one of the main contributors to the development of the local cultural scene. Grandmaster António Manoel de Vilhena’s original objective for the Theatre has developed significantly from just providing honest entertainment to the public.
Today, the Manoel’s mission is to entertain, inform and educate, thereby enriching the cultural life of the audience as well as to provide a platform for artists to excel in their talents. It is committed to the presentation of quality artistic productions, to the creation of new audiences for music and drama genres, and to provide a principal platform for local and international artists.
Jesuits' Church Merchants Street
The Jesuits' church (in Maltese "Knisja tal-Ġiżwiti") is one of the oldest churches in Valletta, and one of the largest in the diocese. The site comprises a college and a church. St Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus in 1534, had considered founding a college in Malta as early as 1553. Through a letter dated 28 March 1592, Pope Clement VIII solicited the setting up of a Jesuit College. It was to be primarily ecclesiastic and not scientific, mainly to prepare candidates to the priesthood.
Grandmaster Martin Garzez laid the Foundation Stone of the College on 4 September 1595. The College become known as Collegium Melitense. The Jesuits initiated courses in the field of higher educational studies.
On 12 September 1634, an explosion caused serious damage to both church and college. The church had to be re-built. The present church was built according to the plan and design of the Order's resident military architect and engineer Francesco Buonamici from Lucca; it was the first work on the island of Malta to be designed by an architect of international repute. The façade bears features of the Baroque style, while the interior is influenced by Doric architecture. Its plan followed the Gesù in Rome, with four-bay nave and seven side chapels; the eighth, Onorati Congregation Chapel, opening from the nave leading to a door onto Archbishop Street.
The Jesuits lectured until their expulsion from Malta by Grandmaster Manuel Pinto da Fonseca in 1768. The Collegium Melitense then become the University of Malta.
St. Nicholas (All Souls) Church Merchants Street
This church was built in 1569 by the Greek Catholics as their Byzantine Rite parish church. In 1639 the Parish Priest, Papas Giovanni Metaxi, without prejudice to the parochial rights, conceded its use to the Sodality of the Holy Souls. In fact the church is commonly known by this name nowadays. Soon after, it was decided to replace the existing church by an entirely new building to the design of Italian architect Francesco Buonamici and was consequently rebuilt in 1652.
The church suffered considerable bombing damage during WWII and was repaired by 1951. Nowadays it is also used by the Serbian Orthodox congregation. This church consists of a centrally planned Greek cross with shortened transverse arms with a dome over the crossing and an apsed choir. A small sacristy flanks the choir and it has a single bell tower on the rear. The façade follows a basic arrangement with three bays at ground level and a central bay on the upper level. The Malta Environment and Planning Authority scheduled the Church of St Nicholas as a Grade 1 national monument.
St. Paul's Anglican Pro-Cathedral Independence Square
St Paul’s Anglican Pro-Cathedral is situated in Independence Square. A “pro-cathedral”, is a church with cathedral status, and is one of three cathedrals of the Anglican Diocese of Gibraltar in Europe.
The cathedral was commissioned by the Dowager Queen Adelaide during a visit to Malta in the 19th Century when she found out that there was no place of Anglican worship on the island. Built on the site of the Auberge d’Allemagne (the conventual home of the German Knights), the cathedral was designed by William Scamp and was built between 1839 and 1844. Queen Adelaide laid the foundation stone on 20 March 1839 and her banner hangs above the choir stalls.
A Valletta landmark due to its spire rising over 60 metres, it is constructed with Maltese limestone in a neo-classical style. The cathedral has columns with capitals of the Corinthian order while the capitals of the six columns of the portico are of the Ionic order.
St. John's Co-Cathedral
Dedicated to the Patron Saint of the Order of the Knights of St.John, their church was given Co-Cathedral status with the Mdina Cathedral in 1882. Before it was built, the knights' Conventual church was located at Birgu. Building started in 1573 under Grand Master La Cassiere who paid for the initial cost. The architect was Gerolamo Cassar. It was solemnly blessed by Bishop Ludovik de Torres in 1578.
The church was administered by a chapter of 'cappellani maggiori' all of whom were ordained members of the Order of St.John. The church has a central nave with chapels on each of two aisles, each chapel corresponding to a Langue of the Order, namely: Auvergne, Aragon, Castile, Leon & Portugal, Anglo-Bavaria, Provence, France, Italy, Germany and the Chapel of Our Lady of Philermos.
The floor consists of 400 ornate marble gravestones over the graves of the knights who died in Malta. In the crypt lie the remains of several grandmasters in ornate graves. In the courtyard on one side of the church lies a mass grave of the knights who died during the Great Seige.
Ta' Ġieżu Church St. John Street
The church of the Friars Minor, which is dedicated to St Mary of Jesus, came to be popularly known by the Maltese as Ta’ Ġieżu. Ta’ Ġieżu is a local corruption of Ta’ Ġesù (of Jesus).
In 1571 the Friars Minor were granted a piece of land in Valletta (Malta) on which to build a church. Work began shortly afterwards, following the design of Gerolamo Cassar. The facade was replaced in 1680 by Mederico Blondel. Numerous grandmasters contributed lavishly towards the embellishment of the church which now hosts various works of art.
The main attraction is undoubtedly the impressive Miraculous Crucifix (in Maltese: Il-Kurċifiss Mirakuluż), by the Sicilian friar Umile Pintorno around 1630. It immediately attracted the attention of the Maltese who still hold it in great devotion. Accompanying the crucifix is a painting of Our Lady of Sorrows by Stefano Erardi.
The titular painting is the work of the Sicilian artist Antonio Catalano. It is dated 1600 and depicts the Visitation of Our Lady to St Elizabeth.
The church also hosts the grave of Blessed Ignatius Falzon (Nazju Falzon) (1813–1865), a diocesan cleric greatly venerated by the Maltese, who taught Catholic catechism to British sailors stationed in Malta.
Bibliotheca (National Library of Malta)
The National Library of Malta, often known as the Bibliotheca, is a reference library in Old Treasury Street, Valletta and is housed in a white stone eighteenth-century building with a pillared portico.
It was founded in 1766 during the reign of Grandmaster Emmanuel de Rohan. For a time it was known as the Bibliotheca Tanseana in honour of Louis Guérin de Tencin, whose collections formed the nucleus of the library. It became a legal deposit library in 1925, and from 1936 was known as the Royal Malta Library. The name was changed to National Library of Malta in 1976.
Please note that this venue is only accessed by a long staircase.
St. Augustine's Church Old Bakery Street
This is one of the first churches built during the creation of the new city of Valletta in 1571 on Gerolamo Cassar’s plan and rebuilt in 1765 according to a plan by Giuseppe Bonnici.