History Of The Area

The piazza, and the city of Valletta, is one steeped in history. From the 16th century, its prime location in the Mediterranean has made it something of a desired spot for many countries. Around 1565 the city of Valletta was created as an aftermath of the Siege of Malta by the Knights of St John. They were very strategic in how the city should be constructed and wanted everything to follow a Hippodamian grid (the grid system you’re more likely to see in American cities)

As you can see in this Google Map, the city is laid out like a grid, unlike surrounding towns which didn’t have the same level of planning when constructed. Everything in its design was made for efficiency and convenience. If the town was to be a central link in the supply chain across Europe, its shape helped a lot. What’s surprising about Valletta’s layout is its narrowness. Usually cities by the sea follow a curvature to a point but Valletta tries its best to avoid this from West Street over to St Ursula Street.

valetta and sliema

This unchanged atmosphere is also present in the buildings of the capital. Although many other areas on Malta have seen overhaul in the centuries for building designs and architecture, Valletta maintains is stunted stature with a limit on the height of building construction within the city limits. The image above shows Valletta on the left and Sliema on the right across the bay. You can here in stark contrast the established look of the capital against the extremely popular tourist destination.

new building beside the sqaure

This is the redeveloped opera house right beside the square. With certain limits in place, the design had to fit in with the look of the area (hence the stone façade), not be higher than the pillars of the piazza and fit in with the feel of the area. For being a thoroughly modern building it has done so quite well. Two laws hold the principals of the city in place:  The Environment Protection Act and the second The Environment and Planning Development Act. These plans were put in place until the 1990s and have really helped make sure Valletta doesn’t go the same way as popular tourist towns. These acts helped buildings to become listed, saving them from redevelopment and established a process of protective zoning. That’s why we have a beautiful piazza in the city which has been cared for and to this day acts a key cultural spot.