Malta’s history is fascinating, especially the medieval period, which looms large over these islands. The Knights of St. John were established in Jerusalem in the time of the crusades, but the Turks drove them out to Rhodes and then pushed them out of there, too. In 1530, the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V then gave them a new home — Malta — to help him defend this part of the Mediterranean. In exchange they were required to pay Charles an annual fee of one Maltese falcon.
In 1565, Sultan Suleiman sent a 40,000-person force to Malta in hopes out wiping out the Knights once and for all. The Great Siege of Malta was repelled by the Knights, who went on to rule these islands for centuries. They also built spectacular fortifications everywhere, including dozens of watch towers that line the coasts and are in excellent condition today.
We have really loved our short eight-day visit to Malta, but this morning we are on our way back to Sicily.