Malta is a place one must go for a vacation. There are numerous things to visit and experience, and one week is barely enough to see the majority of them, as you will see from my stories to follow. There is a lot of history – from the very ancient to the Medieval times until the modern and contemporary era. It’s a deeply religious place and religious art lovers should get ready for a feast when they go to Malta.  It is inhabited by an interesting  and unique people that belongs to both the European and the Mediterranean space. It is not a place necessarily to return for a second vacation.

There are two big islands in Malta – Malta itself and Gozo and a third minuscule one between them with exactly six inhabitants, one being a policeman. The total population is of about 390,000.

People used to the Mediterranean landscape will find the setting familiar. Malta is situated as the same latitude as the North of Israel, and the stony hills and sub-tropical bushes look quite similar to the ones in the Holy Land, somehow greener than central Israel. The rain average is the same and there are no rivers on the islands, so there must be some underground reservoirs.

The feeling of deja vu stroke me as soon as I got into the first city I visited in the first day of my stay in Malta – the city of Mosta. There is very little new construction and development in Malta, and only in the coastal hotels areas. When people build in the cities they still use the limestone blocks in a very conservative manner, so new building looks strikingly similar to old one, and only the level of degradation of the facades tells something about the age of the construction. They also do not seem to demolish, when a house stops being used it is simply abandoned, and not demolished to make room to a new one – quite strange for an island which is a minuscule point on the map of the Mediterranean.

Yet, beauty and style can be found in many places, and I will get back telling a few things and bringing some photos to prove it later. To start with I will just tell that balconies seem to be a national passion and they come in different shapes and color and break the cubical structure of the Mediterranean villas that can be seen in many other places.

The feeling of familiarity is enhanced as soon as you can hear the Maltese language. It is a Semitic language, close and sounding very similar to Arabic, but written with the Latin alphabet. Some Italian influence (Sicily is only 90km North of Malta) rounds a little bit the sounds, but overall the landscape and the language combined make the Maltese cities and villages look very similar to the Arab areas in Israel. It’s just that instead of minarets here we get churches, and many of them, and beautiful ones.

It’s a deeply Catholic country and religion played an important role in it’s history and continues to play an important role in the life of the inhabitants nowadays. I’ll get back to this in a later episode.