Come to Malta to learn English, and you will find yourself surrounded by the 7000 years of living history and culture Malta has to offer. Travel back in time by visiting key Maltese cities such as Mdina and Valletta, as well the neighbouring islands of Comino and Gozo, and you'll discover the amazing historical events that have shaped the destiny of Europe and the world.
The Maltese islands went through a golden Neolithic period, the remains of which are the mysterious temples dedicated to the goddess of fertility. Later on, the Phoenicians, the Carthaginians, the Romans and the Byzantines all passed through Malta and left their mark on the island’s design and structure. In 60 AD, St. Paul was shipwrecked on the island while travelling to Rome, and initiated its transformation into the largely Christian and Catholic island and culture that has survived to this day.
Arabic civilisation conquered Malta in 870 AD and left an important mark on the Maltese language and the island’s architecture. Until 1530, Malta was an extension of Sicily, with the Normans, the Aragonese and other conquerors ruling over the island. From 1530 to 1798 the Knights took Malta through one of its golden eras, transforming it into a key player in the European cultural scene throughout the 17th and 18th century.
As you begin to explore Malta, you will find yourself surrounded by and breathing in the rich cultural history of the islands with every step that you take. The artistic and cultural life of the islands were shaped and enriched by the presence of artists such as Caravaggio, Mattia Preti and Favray, who were commissioned by the Knights to embellish churches, palaces and auberges. Their works survive to this day and can be seen in various museums and other renowned cultural and heritage sites around the island. In 1798, Napoleon Bonaparte took control of the island from the Knights while moving toward Egypt. The French presence on the island was short-lived, as the English, who had been called on by the Maltese to help them expel the French, took over the islands in 1800.
British Rule in Malta lasted until 1964, when Malta became independent. The Maltese adopted the British system of administration, education and legislation. Malta became a Republic in 1974 and joined the European Union in May 2004.
Valletta, founded around the middle of the 16th century, is the actual capital of Malta. From around 1490 to 1550, there was just a single watchtower, where one can today find the Fort Saint Elmo.
During the period when the Order of the Knights Hospitallers controlled the Maltese islands, Malta suffered through the Great Siege, during which they temporarily lost control of the fort before taking it back with the help of Sicilian reinforcements. After the Hospitallers won the Great Siege, it was the Grand Master Jean de La Valette who ordered the building of the fortified city which took its name from him: "La Valletta."
Mdina is a fortified city in the centre of Malta, which was founded in the 8th century and served as capital of Malta from antiquity to the medieval period. Its name derives from the Arabic "medina," which means "city." Mdina is also known as "the silent city" due to its low population (under 300) and the restricted number of cars allowed in the city.
With 7,000 years of history, the Maltese Islands are steeped in culture and heritage. This historic legacy, unique in the Mediterranean, is reflected in the country’s national architecture and collections. There are so many areas of heritage and culture which one can explore – the 16th century masterpiece Grand Masters’ Palace, which is now the House of Parliament; the “Sacra Infermeria”, which is now a fully equipped conference centre; the St. James Centre for Creativity – a superbly restored fortification where contemporary works of art are exhibited against the original rough-textured walls and rediscovered spaces. With these buildings and others, past and present blend into an enduring and admirable lesson in the art of living.
Theatre and music are also very popular on the Islands. A variety of theatres, including Valletta's Manoel Theatre and two Opera Houses in Victoria (Gozo), as well as several open-air venues, offer a wide selection of plays, musicals, operas and concerts. There is always something to do on the Maltese islands.