It’s often said that Malta is a small island with an incredibly rich history. No matter how many times it’s repeated, it doesn’t get any less true. Our archipelago is a goldmine for any history nut, but we encourage anybody visiting the islands to get a good whiff of our past.
Sure, there are plenty of reasons to visit Malta and Gozo – but if you really want to get to know what we’re all about and why we are the way we are, a trip to some of our museums is definitely in order (we promise you’ll still have time to check out our beaches and shopping malls).
Of course, a lot of history means a lot of museums, so the question becomes where to even begin. That’s where we come in! We’ve put together a list of a few of our favourite museums – and because we know that in no way does this cover them all, we guarantee that we’ll have similar blog posts with even more museums you’ll also want to visit in the future.
In the meantime, check out our current museum recommendations, listed below. If you’re feeling adventurous enough, you can even make a day tour of them! It wouldn’t even be a terribly taxing tour either, as the five museums we’ve mentioned today are only located in three different cities: Birgu, Valletta, and Imdina.
Malta Maritime Museum
You’d better get your sea legs moving for this one! As an island strategically positioned between Sicily and Africa, Malta has had an incredibly important maritime role in the Mediterranean spanning over 7000 years, all of which is documented in this Museum in Birgu.
The Malta Maritime Museum is located within the Old Naval Bakery, which couldn’t be more apt and adds to the charm of the place even more. Of course, it’s not the outside that’s most striking but the 20,000+ artefacts within. Among these are the largest ship model owned by the Order of St John, the oldest roman anchor in the world, a working steam engine from the 1950s, and much, much more!
Malta at War Museum
Also located in Birgu is the Malta at War Museum, which is a testament to the role Malta took up during WW2, particularly during the years 1940-1943 (which have collectively become known as the Malta Blitz).
Located in an army barracks from the 18th century used during the war, the museum offers a mix of official artefacts and personal items from people fighting or affected by war somehow, making it a sobering but intriguing look at the largescale terror of WW2.
National War Museum
For the bloodthirsty (or, well, people who happen to be interested in wars), The National War Museum is another great option, but this time you’ll have to travel to Valletta, which is luckily the easiest thing to do in Malta ever.
Though the museum covers all eras of Malta’s war-stricken past, if you’re specifically interested in the World Wars you’ll find much pleasure in the two halls dedicated to just these times, which even hosts the George Cross bestowed to Malta (and interestingly enough, a jeep belonging to Roosevelt).
National Museum of Archaeology
If you’re still in Valletta and your craving for museums isn’t completely satisfied, the National Museum of Archaeology is the next place to check out (mind you, there are a lot of museums in Valletta worth visiting).
This museum covers archaeological artefacts from the Neolithic period (5000 BC) to Phoenician times (400 BC). It’s a wonderful insight to how some of our earliest island dwellers communicated through art and sculpture.
The museum hosts some of our most iconic items from megalithic times, including Hypogeum’s Sleeping Lady statue.
The Wignacourt Museum is located in Imdina and is named after one of the Grand Masters in Malta, Alof de Wignacourt. This isn’t surprising considering the building used to be the baroque residence of the chaplains of the Knights of St John.
The museum is not merely a historical exhibit of the Knights of St John though (although we wouldn’t complain if it were). Rather there’s a vast array of artefacts here, including a replica of the Hold Shroud of Turin, an altar used to celebrate mass during the time of the Knights, various coins and rare prints, and artworks by Antoine Favray, Mattia Preti, and several others.