Our study trip to Malta
October 10th – October 16th 2016
On Tuesday, the 11th of October, we did a tour in Valletta, the capital of Malta. A guide led us to Valletta's most beautiful and culturally valuable places. He’s been doing his job for a long time, it seemed, since he was speaking very fast.
Valletta is quite small in size, it has about 7.500 inhabitants today. The founders of Valletta were the Knights of St. John. The name "Valletta" comes from the Grand Master La Valette though, a hero of "The Great Siege" against the Ottomans in 1565.
Valletta is surrounded by a huge town wall and the largest natural harbour in the Mediterranean Sea called "The Marsamxett Harbour".
In Valletta you'll find roots of many different cultures, because it has played a very important role for the European continent. The Spanish, the Italian, the Catholic, the Arabian and the British are the most significant cultures which can be noticed on the small island of Malta.
The British ruled Malta from the beginning of the 19th to the end of the 20th century. As a result, almost every Maltese is able to speak English beside the Maltese language and the traffic goes the same way as in Great Britain.
Due to its location, Malta was ideal for conquering the surrounding countries and therefore, many buildings are fortifications.
In fact, the short 7.000 years of history of Malta includes almost 5.000 years of war between different nations.
On our tour through Valletta, we also enjoyed its beautiful architecture. The city was designed by Francesco Laparelli. Buildings in Valletta have detailed ornaments on the outside as well as on the inside. Many roads look very similar since most buildings are built out of limestone. You can easily get lost!
One of the most impressive stops of our tour was the "St. John's Co-Cathedral". It was built as the main church for the Knights of St. John between 1572 and 1577.
The Grand Masters and several knights donated gifts of high artistic value and made enormous contributions to enrich it with only the best works of art. This church is an important shrine till this very day and a sacred place of worship. It is also a venue for cultural events.
From the outside it looks a bit plain, but inside we found a real masterpiece of art. Ornaments inside are covered in 22-carat gold. Beside the gold, it also contains famous and expensive paintings and the most expensive and huge carpets hang on the walls. St. John's is one of the world's greatest cathedrals and also one of the finest examples of the Baroque-Architecture.
At the end of our tour "The Upper Barrakka Gardens" offered a nice view of the ports of Malta. Beside Valletta we were also able to visit the cities Vittorosia, Cospicua and Senglea.
In summary it can be said, that we had a great day, full of informative entertainment and extraordinary impressions of the multi-cultural history of Malta.
Written by Belal, Cina, Jamal, Jan & Laurenz
On our third day on Malta we met in front of the Sprachcafe at nine o’clock. Our teachers Mr. Brunkhorst and Mrs Vodegel had rented a bus and a tour guide who took us to some places and attractions at the East and South coast of Malta.
First we headed to Birgu, nowadays also known as Citta Vittoriosa on the south side of the Grand Harbour. Right next to the harbour is the freedom date monument which stands for the peaceful ending of the British era on Malta.
In order to protect the cities they had to live in Valletta and Vittoriosa. Vittoriosa used to be the capital of the knights and soldiers in former times. It is located close to the harbor and sea in order to defend the country from attacks during the wars and the city is well known for its vital role in the Great Siege of Malta in 1565. In fact, the place served as the base of the Order of Saint John and de facto capital city of Malta from 1530 to 1571.
In Vittoriosa we saw the statue of Sir Pawlu Boffa who was a Maltese prime minister. He took office after self-rule was reinstated by the British colonial authority after World War II. We also visited Senglea point. It is part of the big defensive installations on Malta.
Afterwards, we went to Marsaxlokk, a small fishing village at the southeast coast with a small market located directly by the sea. Later on, we passed by the Blue Grotto, which unfortunately we couldn't visit. The sea was too rough and the small boats were unable to make their way to the Blue Grotto that day. Instead we visited Ghar Lapsi and stayed there for two hours. It was a good alternative to swim and relax before heading back.
On our way we passed a village called Żabbar which was granted the title of Città Hompesch by the last of the Grand Masters of the Order of St. John to reign in Malta, Ferdinand von Hompesch zu Bolheim, the first German who was elected to this office. It is said that many inhabitants of this city have blue eyes, because many knights had affairs with Maltese women in former times. Our tour guide told us much more but sadly it was very hard to understand her.
Feline, Nora, Vanessa, Alice, Aayet
On Thursday morning we went to the Mosta Dome. It has the third largest unsupported dome in the world. Therefore, it is the most impressive part of this historical place but the inside of the dome is also really impressive. Many parts are either gilded or white and blue. During World War II, German bombs fell on the dome. One bomb hit the dome during a mass, but it did not explode. Today a replica of it is displayed at the back of the Mosta Dome.
Our second stop was Mdina. It was the first capital of Malta. The whole city is outlined by a defensive wall and looks like a big museum. We noticed the heavy Catholic influence on Malta as there are many cathedrals and Catholic figures.
You can also see the influence of the Knights of Malta, a Roman Catholic religious order. There is an exhibition of big figures of the past centuries which is named “The Knight of Malta“. In Mdina we did a rally to get to know the city on our own.
The city of Rabat is located very close to Mdina. We went there and mainly payed a visit to the marketplace. There you can also find a large Catholica cathedral. Most of us were very hungry and kept looking for a restaurant to eat or drink something.
Our last stop was a beach called Golden Bay. Golden Bay is one of the few sandy beaches of Malta and it´s really beautiful. The visit of the beach was a perfect end of this excursion. All of us enjoyed lying on the beach and relaxing in the sun.
Laura, Anna, Stacy and Narin
On Friday we visited one of the third reverse osmosis plants in Malta (Pembroke). It was very interesting and we gathered a lot of information. Malta has no lakes or rivers and therefore no access to freshwater. They produce drinking water from sea water. The reverse osmosis plant was built in 1996.
It is an elaborate process to transform sea water into drinking water and costs 5% of the produced electricity. The water is not directly taken from the sea because of its pollution. Instead it is filtered through the rocks. The next step consists of adding acid to reduce the pH-level from 7.3 to 6.8. Afterwards it is filtered through plastic filters to set a foundation for the reserved osmosis process, which causes the removal of the salt. The last step is mineralizing the water and adding chlorine to it.
Another really important and interesting fact is that only 40% of the pumped up water is used for producing drinking water.
Nowadays the sewage is cleaned up to a 100% before it is discharged into the sea. It is planned to use that water for industrial purposes in the future.
Even though we had such an amazing day including marvelous experiences and adventures, the colleagues of our guide were very loud. Therefore, we were not able to entirely follow the information the guide was giving.
Melissa, Sarah, Ria and Jenny