The Most Humble City – Citta Humilissima

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The Most Humble City – Citta Humilissima

So they named it, the Most Humble City.  Built from scratch in 1566, on virgin land, by victorious warrior monks after a heroic siege against the might of the Ottomans, on a peninsula dividing two deep water harbours.  The  City of Valletta, Capital of Malta.

A most inappropriate name if you ask me.  Far from “humble”, very far from “most humble”.  A very proud city in fact, proud to the point of bragging arrogance!

And so it should be.  A world-class marvel, a child of the most forward looking urban and military designers of its day.  An impregnable walled city.  The first in the world to feature a grid-patterned street layout.  A city of auberges, churches and imposing buildings.  A sixteenth century urban centre of defence, administration and trade with a Palace, a Cathedral, a Library, a Theatre, a Hospital and a University thrown in for good measure.  Surrounded by high, unassailable walls which continue to marvel to this very day.  And flanked by two world-class harbours, each protected by additional defensive works, fruit of the foremost military engineers of a bygone age.

Today it is the capital of a modern European state.  A cruise port, a tourist attraction, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  A phoenix rising from the ashes of neglect, war damage and insensitive interventions.  The European Capital of Culture in 2018.

I reiterate, Valletta is far from being Most Humble.  Surprising, unexpected, marvellous and unique is how I’d rather describe it instead!


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