Valetta – European Capital of Culture 2018

Diplomatic Magazine (Hungary) 2018/6 Article by Prof. Sir David Zammit Knight of Malta KMFAP Grand Prior of Malta.

Valletta – European Capital of Culture 2018
“The greatest cultural event since Malta‘s independence”

In 2012 Valletta was declared European Capital of Culture for
2018. It does not only feature the capital city but includes all the
Maltese Islands, focusing on the social, economic and cultural development
of the country.
Being the very first World Heritage City in Europe to become
European Capital of Culture. Valletta has a lot to offer with its historic
heritage, fortifications and Baroque palaces. The opening ceremony
for Valletta 2018 took place in the Mediterranean Conference
Centre. This historic building was built by the Knights of St. John as
a Grand Hospital in the 16th century, boasting the longest unsupported
hall in Europe.
Founded in 1565 by the Order of St John as the capital city, Valletta
has a vast cultural history. Heavily fortified and well defended
from all sides, the city could easily protect the Order’s navy in Valletta
and Marsamxetto harbours. When Malta was occupied by the
French in 1798, briefly the Knights of the Order of St. John left and
afterwards a number of their beautiful palaces were taken over by the
British to be used as offices during British rule. After gaining independence
in 1964, Valletta became the centre of Malta’s Government.

Being named Capital of Culture has acted as a catalyst for the
city. Preparations have seen the regeneration and conservation of
many Valletta’s incredible architectural treasures including the
Strait Street, which has been once again turned into an ongoing
business concern and the covered market (is-Suq tal-Antik tal-
The Manoel Theatre has also recently undergone extensive renovation,
hosting numerous music, dance and theatre shows. More than
400 events and 140 projects keep Malta buzzing during 12 months
with 1,000 local and international artists, ensembles, curators, performers,
workshops, writers, designers, filmmakers, choirs and musicians.
Including the internationally renowned violinist Edvin Marton’s
concerts, who is in love with Malta and much inspired by the emotions,
smile and welcome getting there.
The various projects like performances, exhibitions, music, film,
education and community projects and the cultural program built
around four themes: Generations, Routes, Cities and Islands, place
a strong emphasis on international cooperation and promote a European
dimension, encouraging citizen participation.

Malta and Gozo can be compared to other small cities but with
vibrant inhabitants, packed with enthusiasm, living in close communities
and co-existing with other cultures since ages, due to the comings
and goings afforded by our harbours, and today we enjoy ever-growing
international connections with our neighbours.
The strategic geography of the Maltese Islands right between Europe
and Africa enables our communities to be in a unique position to host
this great and year-long event. Our Mediterranean lifestyle and very
special relationship with the sea, which shapes our national identity,
are another cherished features, capable of reaching out to the varied
and valuable perspectives that surround it.
As Maltese, we have always been known for enthusiastic celebrations
of our traditional village feasts (Festa). We celebrate the European
Capital of Culture with the same passion and exuberance the whole
year. The village feast invokes crowded streets decorated by gold-leaf
pillars, bright lights and banners, lively laughter, and the occasional
sound of fireworks as they fly up and unfurl against the sky. Although
such exciting moments may be brief, the community celebrations and
the spirit of the festa are an integral part in our lives. It allows the infusion
of warmth and camaraderie in our communities and families as
well as giving some welcome colour to our daily lives.
We would like to provide our guests coming to the event delightful
experience, full of passion, drama and sense of community. To achieve
this, we will have active participation of a number of people from all
walks of life with different talents and artistic ability.
Similarly, the success of Valletta 2018 requires initiative, enthusiasm,
talent and collaboration of people from all walks of life, who willingly
give their time to contribute to the Cultural Program. We feel
that our Island will flourish with the valuable efforts given to the event
from all the communities that will come together to create such a
wonderful shared experience.
We unite to make Valletta 2018 a truly unique year of contemporary
culture, allowing the forging of long-lasting friendships and new traditions
that will open dialogue and collaboration creativity and innovation
all over our Island and beyond for future generations.
During Valletta 2018, the Maltese people invite you to take part in
an island-wide festa and to experience a 360-degree exploration of the
7000-year-old civilization‘s heritage and the contemporary Maltese
way of life.
Prof. David Zammit
Rector PDMU University, Malta