Today there is so much to learn thanks to the many historical sites dotted around the Island.
There are many areas of heritage and culture to be explored such as:
- The Grandmaster’s Palace
- The Sacra Infermeria
- St John’s Co-Cathedral
- Palazzo Falson
- The Museum of Fine Arts
- The War Museum
- St James Cavalier
- The Mosta Dome
- St Paul & St Agatha’s Catacombs
- The Hypogeum, the Temples and Ghar Dalam
Maltese Pre-history and ancient civilizations
5,200 BC Stone Age farmers arrive in Malta
3,600-2,500 BC – The age of building temples in Malta
800 BC – The Phoenicians from Lebanon sail to Malta
400 BC – The city of Carthage in North Africa rules Malta
218 BC – The Romans conquer Malta
Christianity is brought to Malta
c. 60 AD – St. Paul is shipwrecked in Malta
870 – The Arabs conquer
1090 – the Normans capture Malta
1283 – The kingdom of Aragon in Spain takes Malta
1412 – The kingdom of Castille in Spain takes Malta. Later Aragon and Castille unite and Malta becomes part of the Spanish Empire.
Arrival of The Knights of St. John to Malta
1530 – The Spanish king gives Malta to the Knights of St John
1562 – The Inquisition is established in Malta
1565 – The Turks lay siege to Malta but fail to capture it
1566 – La Vallette builds the city of Valletta
1634 – New fortifications are built across the peninsula south of Valletta. They are designed by Pietro Paolo Floriani and are now known as the city of Floriana.
1693 – Malta is badly damaged by an earthquake
Napoleon’s conquest of Malta and the British Empire
1798 – The French land in Malta
1800 – The French surrender to the British Empire
1919 – The Maltese riot against the British
1921 – Malta is given a new constitution and Joseph Howard becomes the first prime minister
1940 – The Italians bomb Malta
1942 – George VI awards the people of Malta the George Cross
1947 – Malta is awarded another constitution
Malta’s independence and Modern Times
1964 – Malta becomes an independent state
1974 – Malta becomes a republic
1979 – The last British servicemen leave Malta
2004 – Malta joins the European Union
2008 – Malta joins the Euro zone
Sometime in their history, Spain, Sicily and Malta have all witnessed North African occupation. This left an imprint on the lifestyles and cultures of their people. A characteristic of this influence is the melody and verse-rendering of folk singing. This imprint is manifested in flamenco singing in Spain, while in Sicily, we can hear it in either the filastrocca or cantastorie. In Malta, this cultural influence is found in ghana. This singing has been defined by Charles Coleiro as ‘…a composition of broken or shared singing. Sometimes, this type of singing is also referred to as ‘nofs ghanja’ meaning half singing. This spirtu pront and the ghana bil-qasma require a great deal of quick thinking as well as the ability to rhyme. Singing usually lasts for an hour and comes to an end with a kadenza, which has two or more stanzas.
In former days, it was general practice for aristocratic families to arrange marriages. This system allowed property to be inherited by a limited number of persons. Countryside girls were also expected to marry the man of her family’s choice. This system broadened the family’s sphere of influence.
In the countryside, when parents realised that one of their daughters was ready for marriage, they would place a pot of basil or carnation on the window ledge. On the other hand, when a young man decided to get married, during festive occasions he would wear a big, beautiful, red carnation behind his ear.
When a young man noticed a pot on the window ledge, he would try to get a glimpse of the girl while she watered the plant. He would also try to get some information on the girl’s background. If he fancied her, he would go to the matchmaker (,huttab/a) asking for his or her service to make contact with the girl’s family. He would indicate the house or farmhouse of the girl, as well as pass on information about his property, capabilities and other information about his extended family.
The matchmaker would then visit the girl’s house and try his best to bring the two families to consent to the match.
When the matchmaker informed the man that the girl’s family was happy with the proposed marriage, the latter would send his sweetheart a large fish, the symbol of luck and fortune, tied with ribbons. In the mouth of the fish a ring was placed as a small gift. In some villages, it was customary for men to place any piece of jewellery instead of a ring. A meeting would then be arranged for the young couple. This would take place in the presence of the parents of both.
At this point a ‘party’ was organised during which neighbours and family friends were entertained with some light refreshments. On this day, the mothers of the young couple would meet to prepare a mixture of aniseed, salt, honey and herbs which they smeared on the lips of the girl. They used to believe that the girl would become affable and prudent towards her future husband. During this party, the future husband would give his girl an engraved gold ring showing clasped hands. This ring may have been inspired by a similar ring worn by Maltese upper class women to indicate that their families were supporters of the Order.
Apart from the ring, the man would also give the bride- to-be some bracelets and gold chains. The value of these objects would depend on his financial means. The girl would reciprocate by giving him a handkerchief with lace and ribbon bows. This handkerchief represented her capabilities at craft work. Marriage preparations would then start. The girl’s parents would start planning her dowry while the man would start to look for accommodation for his future family. Next, a date for the wedding would be set and planning for the religious ceremony, the wedding lunch and entertainment would start.