Sunday September 14th, 2014
Valletta is the capital of Malta and bustling with people… and it is also a city that has survived siege after siege over it’s 500 year history, from outside invading forces including persistent and terrible bombing by the Russians during World War II.
Before all that happened and for many thousands of years different people lived here on these island and most of them suffered a similar fate, other than the Neolithic people. They lived here on these islands peacefully for several thousand years.
The ancient history is why I visited Malta … and to be really truthful, I am sick and tired of history being about who conquered who. Because of the great span of time since the peaceful communities of the Neolithic lived, little has survived or what has survived is very different from our current way of living, so we may not know exactly what we are looking at. The language they used has not been deciphered yet, either. If there are any messages in place on the artistic pottery, or numerous icons conventional scholars don’t understand it.
Now and then, something will emerge from a very long time ago and the artifact or frozen mummy will get all kinds of media attention, but the scholars who “decipher” these relics from human history are biased and controlled through their own personal views of how cultures must have operated. Also, I imagine the funding for their research would dry up fairly quickly if they proposed something radical like the possibility that women led nations! It’s for this reason that my curiosity led me away from typical scholars and towards those who were framing what was being looked at with a lot more imagination.
Today in Valetta, we went to see a short film about the history of Malta. There was a bit about the early history of the island archipelago but it moved quickly into the numerous and terrible invasions this country has suffered.
The last “invader” was England, who colonized Malta for a long time, but 50 years ago in September, the Maltese gained their independence and have been on their own for ½ a century now!
The islands are tiny, yet they boast 44 ancient temples and now 365 Catholic Churches! Even though the religion may be different, this archipelago is a place where people depend on their faith and have that as a center focus in their community.
Valetta is a beautiful city, replete with churches on every block, museums, forts and street after street of buildings that are all the same limestone color of the earth here. After we watched the movie we were cut loose to get some lunch in the courtyard high above the bay in a semi-breezy park… The architecture is this mix of Baroque architecture, replete with elaborate windows and filigreed doors and the plain stark limestone blocks set together to make a box like structure.
The gardens were lovely and a little breezy, making it a nice place to enjoy a bit of food and conversation. I sat with my dear friend and teacher, Vicki Noble and 2 new friends Sondra and Maggie from Italy and Switzerland, respectively sharing stories about our lives and getting to know each other more… In our group, we had met everyone during our opening circle with Jennifer Berezan & Joan Marler who are leading this pilgrimage on the night we arrived, but slowly I’m certain that we will visit more with each other like during this luncheon.
After lunch, we trundled off to the National Archeological Museum to see the amazing ancient artifacts from many of the temples we are going to visit in these 12 days of touring we’ve planned.
Rather than a bunch of narrative, I’ll just share some of my favorite images from this tour in a photo site… stay tuned for that.