Great Siege of Malta & the Knights of St. John
The Great Siege of Malta and Knights of St. John in Valletta uses video, displays, and reconstructions to bring Malta’s most momentous battle—the Great Siege of 1565—to life. Charting the story of the Knights of St. John and the long siege of the Grand Harbour by the Ottomans, the show draws families and anyone interested in Malta’s past.
Visitors can explore the exhibition for themselves or with audio guides for navigation and background information. The displays revolve around a walk-through of dioramas that depict the events of the Great Siege, which is aligned with the words of the Spanish poet, Francesco Balbi, who was an eyewitness to the breaking of the siege in September 1565. Visitors can also learn about the Knights of St. John who arrived in Malta in 1530 and repelled the prolonged Ottoman bombardment of the Grand Harbour 35 years later before going on to build Valletta. Videos of battle reconstructions, multimedia displays, and light and sound effects add to the experience.
Things to know before you go
- The Great Siege and Knights of St. John exhibition will appeal to history buffs and first-time visitors to Malta.
- Some videos show battle scenes, so parents should consider if they’re suitable for younger children.
- Audio guides are available in 10 languages.
How to get there
The Great Siege of Malta and Knights of St. John show is located on Republic Square in central Valletta. As the local streets are pedestrianized, visitors arrive on foot. From Valletta’s main bus terminal at the Triton Fountain, make the 10-minute walk through the City Gate and along Republic Street to the square. Alternatively, catch the #133 bus from the terminal to Valletta’s Nawfragju stop; the square is a short stroll away via Old Theatre Street. Drivers will find parking near the Triton Fountain.
When to get there
The show runs 7 days a week, from 10am-8pm. The venue is usually uncrowded, and as it’s indoors, makes a cool retreat from Valletta’s heat in summer. To avoid any lines, arrive near the opening or closing times.
What to See and Do Near the Great Siege of Malta Show
One of Valletta’s most beautiful squares, Republic Square—home to the Great Siege show and numerous open-air eateries—is overlooked by the city’s Grandmaster’s Palace, the handsome Bibliotheca (Malta’s National Library) and a statue of Queen Victoria, placed here in 1891. Take a stroll to admire them all before indulging in a meal and people-watching at one of the square’s buzzing cafes.
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- Lower Barrakka Gardens
- Casa Rocca Piccola
- Church of St. Paul's Shipwreck
- Grandmaster's Palace
- Fort St. Elmo & the National War Museum
- St. John's Co-Cathedral (Kon-Katidral ta' San Gwann)
- Upper Barrakka Gardens
- Teatru Manoel
- National Museum of Archaeology, Malta
- Valletta Waterfront (Pinto Wharf)
- Auberge de Castille
- Lascaris War Rooms
- Malta 5D
- Grand Harbour
- St. James Cavalier Centre for Creativity (Spazju Kreattiv)