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Living in Valletta: Your Guide to the European City of Culture

Valletta or Il-Belt in Maltese, is known by many names such as 'Fortress Island', a living open-air museum, 'Nurse of the Mediterranean', the City of Dreams and World Heritage City. It is a city that is full of surprises, even for those who live there and it fully deserves the most sought after title of the European City of Culture.

Valletta was named after its founder, Jean Parisot de la Valette who was the Grand Master of the Order of St. John. The Knights originally planned the city to care for injured soldiers and pilgrims. It also provided a good defence post, which is why the city is heavily fortified.

Unfortunately Jean Parisot de la Valette never lived long enough to see the city named after him, for he died just 5 years after work started on the project.

Today, Valletta is the proud holder of the title of the smallest EU capital and represents the commercial and administrative heart of Malta, attracting throngs of tourists who revel in the timeless atmosphere, narrow streets, grand buildings, magnificent works of art and baroque culture. In Valletta there is history lurking around every corner.

 

Valletta: The European Capital of Culture 2018

Every year the European Union chooses two cities to host annual cultural events that represent the richness, vibrancy and diversity of European cultures. The cities must demonstrate a celebration of other cultures, highlight what it means to belong to Europe and rejoice in the close ties it has with other European nations.

Valletta was recently chosen to hold the prestigious title for the year 2018 to be shared with the Netherlands. It is easy to see why Valletta was chosen for it is a European cultural centre as well as an important historical city which has played a large role in the theatre of war. It has a long and fascinating history and remains an important gateway from Europe to North Africa and the Middle East.

Valletta may be steeped in history but as far as economic development goes, it has always had one foot in the future. Partnerships with other countries are being fostered all the time with the most recent example, an Arab-Liaison Office, having just opened on the fringes of the city. The government is keen to encourage such growth and international relations with a huge investment in the highly successful Malta Enterprise which promises to do just that.

 

The Process Behind European City of Culture

To date more than 40 cities have been chosen to represent Europe as the European Capital or City of Culture and there are certain criteria they have to meet in order to be considered. Past criteria has included:

 

To positively position the city on a global scale and to encourage more visitors to the region To focus upon long-term growth and sustainability To encourage re-generation of the city to make it a better place to live and work To bring their arts and culture programmes to a wider, international audience

 

Each city will have their own set of criteria, but the impact of being the ECoC for previous cities has shown a long-term positive outcome both economically and culturally.

Although the programme is only designed for a year, judges are also looking for cities which can provide a lasting legacy for its people for many years to come.

Previous cities have included Glasgow (Scotland), Stockholm (Sweden), Genoa (Italy), Athens (Greece), Krakow (Poland) to Porto (Portugal), Turku (Finland) and Tallinn (Estonia).

 

The Affect of the European City of Culture on Malta Property

Historically the title has great meaning for the chosen city, as it is seen as an opportunity to aid growth and encourage cultural, trade and economic benefits for the whole country. Valletta will be thrust into the international limelight and such a raise of profile will also lead to a rise in interest from foreign investors and businesses.

The European Commission conducted a study in 2004 which clearly showed that the city chosen to be European Capital of Culture led to a huge expansion of cultural and economic development and this will be no different for Valletta.

The property market in Valletta as well as the whole of Malta is expected to increase, which is good news for investors buying property in Malta now. The city is likely to benefit from increased business opportunities, higher investment and more interest from all four corners of the globe which could set the property market rocketing.

 

Typical Property Types in Valletta

The unique architecture of Valletta reflects many periods throughout Malta's turbulent history. It is possible to find examples from the 16th century during the rule of the Knights of St. John right through to the modern day. Essentially the city is quite Baroque in character and it is thanks to these architectural delights that the city was recognised as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Today you will find a large range of properties in Valletta from the old to the new. If you want to embrace the heritage of this city then there are plenty of traditional Maltese townhouses and palazzos which reflect the Baroque style of the city.

Modern examples are still very much in keeping with the atmosphere of the city and so retain bags of character. These range from converted townhouses, to new apartments and penthouses with harbour views, all of which inject a little bit of luxury in this Mediterranean paradise.

Modern complexes are built in special designated areas, especially for the surge in foreign interest and are situated just outside the capital in neighbouring residential towns. These developments offer all the facilities you could need, so are ideal for families. One such development is Forth Mansions overlooking Malta's largest Yacht Marina on the outskirts of Valletta and located in Ta'Xbiex, a name thought to be derived from the word 'Tbexbix', meaning 'sunrise'.

 

The Economic Future of Malta

Malta has always attracted foreign investors and newcomers thanks to its unique location and tax incentives which encourage investment and business opportunities. According to the 2013 Index of Economic Freedom, Malta has seen significant improvements in property rights, investment and labour freedom and is performing well despite economic turbulence which is largely down to its openness towards global trade and investment.

The future is looking very bright for Malta.