Your Easy Guide to Malta

5 surprising things you might not know about Malta


Think you know everything about Malta? Think again!

From a boat with eyes, to a sign of courage, ancient architecture, a unique plant and a bird that likes dilapidated buildings, there are plenty of surprising facts about Malta’s cultural icons.

And you don’t need to go to a museum to see them. 

Eyes on Maltese boats

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A post shared by @malta_visit on Aug 17, 2019 at 12:55am PDT

Did you know that Malta’s boats have eyes?

For a country surrounded by sea, it is not surprising that boats play a big part of the culture. One of Malta’s cultural icons is the traditional boat called the luzzu.

You can recognise this fishing boat by its bright colours.

Also, particular to this boat, are the pair of eyes that are painted on the front of the boat.

Known as the Eye of Osiris, these are believed to protect fishermen from harm when they are out at sea.

You can easily see these boats dotted around the sea, for instance in Valletta, Marsaxlokk and Vittoriosa. Why not go for a ride in one and get a taste of life at sea?

The Flag of Courage

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Een bericht gedeeld door Lidl Malta (@lidlmalta) op 31 Mrt 2017 om 12:59 (PDT)

Did you know that Malta’s flag bears a permanent tribute to the bravery of the Maltese? 

This Malta icon has a rich history behind it. Firstly, tradition has it that the red and white colours were given by Count of Sicily Roger I.

He supposedly gave the Maltese a piece of his red and white chequered flag. However, others argue that a more likely source is the flag of the Kinghts of Malta, a white cross on a red field.

But the George Cross, on the upper left-hand corner of the Maltese flag is the star of the show.

It was given to the Maltese by King George VI because they were so brave during the Second World War.

The Maltese balcony

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Een bericht gedeeld door Visitmaltait (@visitmaltait) op 19 Sep 2019 om 1:01 (PDT)

You cannot talk about Malta’s traditional architecture without mentioning balconies.

And what better way to see them than to take a stroll through some of the island’s beautiful cities?

Many Valletta balconies, for instance, date back to the times of the Knights.

One of the building laws laid down by the Knights was that blocks had to have some kind of ornaments on them.

Take a look at the huge corner wooden balcony on the Grand Master’s Palace. This is one of the earliest examples of these features.


Malta’s national plant

Malta’s national plant, the Maltese rock centaury, is found only in Maltese Islands, making it a particularly special icon.

Related species, however, can be found in Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Algeria and the Canary Islands.

Interestingly, the Maltese name for the plant is Widnet il-Bahar, which translates directly as “ear of the sea”.

Indeed, the plant can be found near the sea, growing on the sides of cliffs in the west and south of the island. Sadly, it’s existence is under threat due to the destruction of many cliff faces.

The national bird

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Een bericht gedeeld door Eric Hamilton 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 (@ericjapan007) op 12 Sep 2019 om 4:16 (PDT)

The name of this pretty bird – Blue Rock Thrush – gives away its colour: blue with black wings and tail.

Yet it is only the male bird that is blue, as the female is dark brown in colour.

If you wish to catch sight of this bird, you will need to look near sea cliffs, steep inland valleys or near buildings in ruins. But perhaps it is easier if you simply go to the Majjistral Natural Park

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