A short history of Malta

The islands of Malta are a rich tapestry of archaeological and historical treasures. They contain some of the greatest structures of prehistory as well as the stunning Medieval fortress city of Valetta.

Hagar Qim Temple 'Fat Lady' Sculptures
The Grand Harbour from Valletta Typical house and balcony, Valletta

Timeline

  • Neolithic 5500-4100 BC
  • Copper Age 4100-2500 BC
  • Bronze Age 2500-750 BC
  • Phoenician 750-600 BC
  • Punic 600-218 BC
  • Roman 218-330 AD
  • Byzantine 330-870 AD
  • Arab 870-1090 AD
  • Normans 1090-1530 AD
  • Knights of St John 1530-1798 AD
  • British Colony 1800-1964 AD
  • Republic 1964 AD

Temples

The Prehistoric Temples of Malta are probably Malta's greatest monuments. Built in monumental, megalithic blocks of stone they astound and challenge our perceptions of Prehistoric peoples. The main Deity would appear to be a goddess or 'fat lady' although distinct female features are rare and this may represent modern gender bias about large thighs and buttocks. The temples are set in a roughly D-Shaped arrangement with an external wall. The Temples, of which there are more than 20, date from approximately 3600BC-2500BC.

Further details on the Prehistoric Temples of Malta

The Knights of St John

In 1530 the Holy Roman Emperor made over Malta to the Order of St John of Jerusalem. From then until 1800 they remained the rulers of the islands. After leaving their previous stronghold of Rhodes, they rejoined the fight against the power of the Turks. In 1565 Suleyman the Magnificent ordered an attack on Malta. The Great Siege cost much loss of life but the Knights survived and went on to found Valletta. From then on the islands were constantly reinforced creating in effect a large fort in the centre of the Mediterranean. Time was to prove the ultimate victor of the Knights though and they were easily swept aside by Napoleon in 1798.

Further details on the Knights of St John on Malta

The Second Great Siege

The Second World War proved another testing time for Malta. A crucial British post in the Mediterranean, the island received heavy aerial bombardment from the Italian and German air forces. Reaching its peak in 1942, the island was awarded the George Cross for its peoples valour. Eventually following the victory of Alamein the Second Siege was lifted and the massive reconstruction effort could begin.

Further details on Malta and the 2nd World War