Wednesday, January 16, 2008

A Brief History of Malta

Malta has been inhabited for over 7000 years, since Neolithic times. After the Neolithic civilization disappeared around 2000 BC, the islands were conquered by Phoenicians and Romans.

After St. Paul was shipwrecked on Malta in 60 AD, he converted the island to Christianity, and with the exception of a brief period of Arab occupation in 870 AD, Malta has remained Christian ever since. Norman Sicilians took Malta from the Arabs in 1090 and occupied it until 1530, when Charles V handed Malta over to the Order of Knights of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem.

The Knights built hospitals and fortifications on the island, while improving its trade and commerce. They fought off an invasion by the Ottomans that lasted for months and cost thousands of lives, and in the process developed into a strategic fortress. After defeating the Ottomans, the city of Valletta was established and became Malta's capital.

The Knights of St. John ruled Malta until Napolean attacked and conquered it in 1798. The French occupied it until Maltese guerillas appealed to British Admiral Nelson for aid in driving the French out. After the British Navy ousted the French, the British Empire ruled Malta until 1964, when it was granted its independence. Today Malta is a member of the European Union and a popular Mediterranean tourist destination.

You can see Malta's history as a fortress in its steep and sheer walls. The plaque on the wall shows the Maltese Cross, the symbol of the Knights.

You can also see its mix of the old and the modern as a Mediterranean resort.

Friday, January 4, 2008


The American West is our home, and our photos have concentrated on our travels through its parks and wide open spaces, but once in a while we get off to a place that's a little farther afield.

Business took us to the island nation of Malta, located approximately 60 miles south of Sicily in the Mediterreanean Sea. Its history is ancient and colorful, partly because of its geographical importance in the old world. It has seen been ruled, sacked or fought over by the Byzantines, the Vandals, the Arabs, the Normans, Napolean and the British, among others, and its exotic allure was forever cemented in the imagination by Dashiell Hammett in The Maltese Falcon.

Here are some initial photos of this beautiful country.