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Malta - An Ancient Gem -

03 June 2011 - News

Malta’s history can be traced back as far as 4,500 BC, when the first settlers from neighboring Sicily finally had the sea vessel to make the journey over the water. The first inhabitancy of the island would have lived in the natural caves that can be found throughout Malta’s 300 Km Sq land mass. Since the very first settlements, the island has had an extremely varied history and the very earliest examples of megalithic structure can be found in Malta. Ancient temples such as Hagar Qim, Mnajdra, Tarxien can be visited and pre-date the pyramids of Ancient Egypt and England’s Stone Henge by 1,000 years.

Malta has been a part of the Phoenician empire and part of the story of Carthage. When Carthage fell to the Romans the island once again changed hands and sat under the rule of the Roman’s during the second Punic war (218 BC) and remained under Rome until the Vandals raided the island in AD 395. From then until AD 535, no records exist and one can only imagine the turmoil the island endured throughout those years.

Fortunately with Islam on the rise, Malta was once again brought under a new thriving rule and stayed under Arab occupation for centuries until the Norman’s brought Malta back into the European family in 1091. The influence of the Arab’s was felt long after within Malta’s culture and it was the Siculo-Arabic (Sicilian Arabic) language that eventually evolved into the Maltese language. Norman rule began an extremely productive period for Malta as the island officially became part of the kingdom of Sicily, with the Catholic church once again reinstalled as the state religion.

The Spanish were also involved in the island and reigned for some time until Napoleon captured the island in 1798 bringing Malta under French rule. Finally in 1814 as part of the treaty of Paris, it was the British Empire who officially became the rulers of Malta, using the island as a shipping way and fleet head quarters. It was not until 1964 that Malta finally achieved its independence and was made a member of the United Nations in the same year. With such an incredible diversity of history as you would expect, the island is fascinating from a historical point of view. History is not all Malta has to offer, known for its sub tropical Mediterranean climate and its wonderful beaches, coves and bays this island is a sun, sea and sand holiday maker’s paradise.

The capital of Malta is Valletta and is officially a Unesco World Heritage site as it is known to be ‘one of the most concentrated historic areas in the world’. It’s a city that erupts with architectural history and also boasts two harbors, The Grand Harbor to the south east and the Marsamxett Harbor to the north west. Valletta is a tiny city with a population of only 6,098 and the inner city is traditionally known as Malta’s main administrative district. However, greater Valletta has a much wider population of over 350,000. There is plenty of hustle and bustle in this city, with many wonderful cafés and restaurants and also many much quieter, more romantic avenues and alleyways to explore.

The capital also hosts regular musical events and theater, as well as street fiestas and performances. With such ancient history, there is much to visit in Malta, from the ancient temples and the underground catacombs of St Pauls and St Agatha’s. There is also a renowned Museum of Archaeology in the city that is home to an extraordinary collection of Maltese prehistoric artifacts. Also throughout the island other museums can be found such as The Museum of Roman Antiquities, the Armory and Maritime Museum and The National Museum of Fine Arts.

There are plenty of other cultural attractions and the villages of Mdina and Rabat are home to an array of historical and cultural interests that are unique to Malta. The towns and villages are awash with renaissance cathedrals and ancient baroque palaces. As Malta is such a small geographical place to navigate, it is so easy for travelers to have the best of both worlds, enjoying inland areas as well as the golden and red sandy beaches. Malta has blue lagoons and even inlands sea. The coast is used by windsurfers as well as sunbathers as the climate is not only wonderful all year round, but ideal for water sports. The larger beaches are lined with café’s during summer seasons and beach holidays are good well into the month of October.

Shopping is also a major attraction on the island. There are many shopping centers throughout Malta’s towns and villages, although the main area’s for shopping are found in Valletta. Of course for the less commercially minded, markets are still very much part of Maltese culture and are normally central to every village and town. Craft shops are also to be found selling various basket-ware and knitwear that correspond to the island’s cultural styles. There is also vibrant nightlife and clubbing in Malta with a large choice of venues, from trance, R&B, Salsa and alternative Rock bars. For a more relaxed environment, you can find many sports bars, wine bars and gentlemen’s clubs. The public service between Malta and its sister island Gozo is provided by a bus service which is a great way for tourists to get around. The bus service is quite an efficient service and is also very cheap with prices ranging from 40-60c per trip. The longest journey is under an hour with the average journey approximately 25 minutes. There is also the possibility to rent cars and scooters if a more independent mode of travel is preferred. Not forgetting the white taxi service that can pick passengers up from anywhere except bus stops.

For those interested in cuisine there are some wonderful traditional Maltese dishes including Fenkata (stewed rabbit), this is often considered the national dish. Pork is also popular, as are home made soups such as Kawlata, a well known Maltese vegetable soup. With such a pan European feel with Arabic cultural strands, Malta is a great choice for anyone looking for one place that has it all.

Malta has two official languages, Maltese the national language and English, which is well used throughout the island as some parts of Malta have a large percentage of British population, such as Qawra where it is 20% British and 1% German.

Properties in Malta are not considered cheap compared to some of the other neighboring countries, but like Gibraltar, there is a large head count to the land mass ratio and therefore property is in high demand. There are 2 and 3 bedroom apartments to be found from €110,000 with prices increasing depending on size and location.

A few pointers to bear in mind when buying property in Malta.

• Foreign nationals can purchase only one property in Malta and usually only for owner/user occupancy. Apart from specially designated areas, such as Chambray and Manoel Island.
• Foreign owned property can only be rented if the value exceeds €230,000 with a swimming pool and has been registered with the establishment’s board of hotel and catering.
• Proof is required that funds for the property have originated from abroad.
• Purchase procedure is very straightforward. Once the property is found, a preliminary agreement is signed. This binds the seller to honor the agreement at the agreed price and time frame.
• At the point of preliminary agreement 10% of the purchase price is to be paid.
• The usual time frame to complete purchase of a property is three months, during which the notary may carry out all necessary searches to ascertain the validity of the title and the sale.
• As always, it is essential that an experienced estate agent is used and a property lawyer to help make sure the transaction is smooth.
• As there is a high standard of English speakers within Malta, this is extremely helpful for foreign buyers looking to communicate their needs, however, hiring a translator for foreign speakers is advisable.

By (June 3, 2011)
Malta Property sales | Malta Holiday rentals | Malta Monthly lettings



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