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Impressions of Malta

Malta could be labelled as a mini-State in Europe, if it were not for the grandeur of its history, its obvious ability through times and history to be a melting pot of cultures and civilisations which in many other places have not always co-existed very well; if it were not for so much diversity and historical depth being squeezed together onto the surface of two medium sized islands in the Mediterranean, 80 kilometres South of Sicily and less than 300 kilometres away from the coasts of Tunisia and Libya. No wonder that just about every ruling king or leader in the Mediterranean took his turn to conquer or control Malta, from Romans and Byzantines to Ottomans, Arabs, French, Italians, Spanish and British. In fact, they all managed and, simultaneously, no one managed: they all let their traces on the islands, adding a brick to what one could ultimately call Maltese society and Maltese culture; and, simultaneously, they all fell short in influence to really dominate. Yes, Maltese language is fundamentally Semitic, largely drawing upon Arabic, but the cities of Mdina and Rabat do not look Arabic as their names would suggest; yes, Malta was a British colony for quite a while, but churches in Malta are mainly Catholic and built in a very un-English baroque style. In fact, only the medieval history of the Knights of the Order of St John runs like a thread through the soul and the identity of Malta, yielding to these two islands of Malta and Gozo a peculiar rootage and a particularity of descent. Discovering those melting pots and roots in the cities and villages, in the islands' history and daily life, is a fascinating delight, especially as it is abundantly spiced up with the unspoilt and wild beauty of Maltese seascapes.

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