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Welcome to Min-On’s Music Journey! Today, the Min-On Concert Association and Embassy of the Republic of Malta to Japan welcome you to Malta, an island country in the warm Mediterranean Sea.

©Malta Tourism Authority

Malta is an archipelago comprising the islands of Malta, Gozo and Comino. It is a small country with a land area of 316 square kilometers and a population of about 520,000. Malta’s comfortable, mild climate, beautiful architecture and gorgeous natural landscapes have made it a world-renowned resort destination.


Travel guide for Malta:

・Visit megalithic ruins of an ancient civilization that have been registered as World Heritage Sites
・Experience the history of Malta in the capital of Valletta
・Dive into the crystal clear waters of Comino Island’s Blue Lagoon
・Eat your fill of Maltese cuisine, which makes full use of exceptional local products


History of Malta

Malta takes its name from the Phoenician word “melita,” meaning “port” or “place of refuge.” Malta has been an important center for maritime trade with many European countries since ancient times, and one of its defining traits is the preservation of many wonderful cultural traditions from England, Italy, France and many other countries.

©Malta Tourism Authority 

Megalithic temples, a thousand years older than the Egyptian pyramids

It’s believed that humans began living on Malta around 5200 BC, during the late Stone Age. By about 3500 BC, the inhabitants began building huge stone temples in succession, and this megalithic civilization spread across the Maltese islands.

This happened a thousand years earlier than the building of the Egyptian pyramids, indicating that this civilization was one of the most advanced civilizations of that era. Over thirty temples scattered across the islands have been confirmed to date, and UNESCO registered several of these temples as World Heritage Sites in 1980 for their historical value and well-preserved condition.

Ggantija Temples  ©Malta Tourism Authority

The tumultuous history of a key location

The Phoenicians settled in Malta as a base of trade across the Mediterranean Sea before the birth of Christ. After that, a succession of major powers ruled the Maltese islands, including Carthage, the Roman Empire, the Eastern Roman Empire, the Arabs and the Normans. In 1530, the Knights Hospitaller (later called the Knights of Malta) moved from Greece to Malta.

The proud Knights of Malta

Of the three major orders of knights from medieval Europe, the Knights of Malta is the only order that has survived to the present day. In 1522, the Knights Hospitaller were driven out of the Greek island of Rhodes and came to Malta in 1530, where they stayed for about 268 years. The culture established over this period left a significant impact on Malta that still remains to this day.

However, Napoleon’s forces occupied Malta and drove out the Knights of Malta in 1798, causing them to move their headquarters to Rome. Malta would later become a British colony before declaring its independence from United Kingdom in 1964.

Today, the Republic of Malta and the Knights of Malta or the Sovereign Military Order of Malta (SMOM) are two completely separate states. Although they don’t possess any territory, the Knights of Malta are recognized as a sovereign state by international law. They maintain diplomatic relations with about 110 countries and are active in causes like providing medical services as an international charitable organization.

After occupation by Napoleon’s forces, Malta became part of France’s and then Britain’s empire until it declared its independence from Britain in 1964 with Queen Elizabeth II as its head of state. In 1974, Malta became a republic and appointed its first president, a system that remains today.

©Malta Tourism Authority 

The Capital City of Valletta, a World Heritage Site

The capital of Valletta was founded by the Knights of Malta in 1571. It takes its name from the leader of the Knights of Malta at the time. Valletta was designed to be an impregnable city, and one of its most notable features is that the entire city is heavily fortified. UNESCO registered the entire city as a World Heritage Site for its robust construction and beautiful architecture.

©Malta Tourism Authority

Valletta is the economic and political center of the Republic of Malta, and its major governmental facilities are gathered here. At the same time, it also has a metropolitan atmosphere filled with stylish cafes and restaurants as well as a beautiful harbor, making it an ideal sightseeing destination.

©Valletta Cultural Agency

Valletta has many wonderful locations to see, including St. John’s Co-Cathedral and its adjacent art museum, The Grandmaster’s Palace (the former palace of the leader of the Knights of Malta and today serves as the Office of the President of Malta), which contains armor and ornamentation of the time period, and the Manoel Theatre, which was built in 1731 and is still in operation. There is also the Casino Maltese, where the Crown Prince of Japan had luncheon in 1921.

©Valletta Cultural Agency

A pair of richly unique islands, Gozo and Comino

In addition to the island of Malta that houses the capital, the Republic of Malta also has two other islands: Gozo and Comino. You can reach either of them by ferry from Malta in under an hour, so visitors should definitely stop by during any visit to Malta.

The peaceful, leisurely island of Gozo

Gozo is an island with a rich natural environment and an idyllic pastoral atmosphere, making it the place to spend a carefree day. The Cittadella in the center of the island offers the perfect view of the surrounding island and the beautiful sea, especially during the rainy season, when the island is covered in flowers and lush green leaves.

Gozo (left) and Cittadella (right)  ©Malta Tourism Authority

The island is home to many unusual sights, like Ramla Bay, which is known for its vivid red sand, and the local saltpans that have been in use since Roman times. The salt produced in the saltpans forms coarse grains, and you can buy it at local supermarkets as a popular souvenir.

Ramla Bay (left) ©Malta Tourism Authority and Saltpans (right) ©Katja Spoljar

Comino island and its remarkably clear Blue Lagoon

Comino is a small island of 3.5 square kilometers that has a resident population of only a few people, but it draws high numbers of visitors thanks to the Blue Lagoon, which has the clearest water in the Mediterranean. Diving and snorkeling in its clear waters are the most common activities, but hiking through the island’s pristine natural environment is popular, too.

©Malta Tourism Authority

The traditional culture of Malta

Malta has a unique culture that combines the best aspects of many countries. Today, let’s explore two sides of Malta’s charm—food and music.

Traditional Maltese cuisine

Being surrounded by the sea, Maltese cuisine features many simple dishes that make full use of the abundance of fresh seafood. An important staple food is ħobż, a large, round loaf of bread. Filtered seawater is kneaded into the dough, giving it a simple yet exquisite salty flavor that is completely unique to the area.

©Malta Tourism Authority

Another dish beloved by the locals is a savory pastry that fits in the palm of your hand called pastizzi. It’s a simple pastry with fillings like ricotta cheese or mashed beans wrapped in a crust made with lard, but its crunchy texture and light flavor make it an irresistible snack.

©Malta Tourism Authority

Rabbit dishes introduced by the Knights of Malta are also very common. The rabbit stew called fenkata is a traditional dish mainly eaten during celebrations.

Another unique aspect of Maltese cuisine is eating the fruits of the prickly pear cactus. Jam and liqueur made from the cactus’s fruit are sold around the island as local specialties.

©Malta Tourism Authority

Malta’s musical culture

Malta is home to folk music called għana. The word means “song” in Maltese, and it refers to Maltese folk songs passed down from antiquity. There are many established styles of għana, but the most iconic is botta u risposta, where singers pour their hearts into improvised lyrics in a poetic fashion akin to Japanese renga collaborative poetry.

Malta has many events involving music that draw visitors from across the globe. The Malta International Arts Festival is an event that draws world-class performers in music, dance and theater to Malta each summer.

©Festivals Malta

Malta also holds events across many different musical genres, like the Malta Jazz Festival held every July and the Glitch Festival, which brings together renowned electronic music artists.

©Valletta Cultural Agency

The Maltese Music Scene: A Mix of Old and New Styles

We would like to introduce musicians from Malta who achieved success during the last few years

  1. Joseph Calleja – Tenor


  1. Karl Fiorini – Composer (composition performed by Nico Darmanin as tenor and Brian Schembri conducting the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra)


  1. Brikkuni


  1. Etnika


  1. The New Victorians


Maltese Films: Reaching New Audiences Worldwide

The Maltese movie industry has been growing steadily throughout the years, from a sector that was mainly aimed at Maltese audiences to one that is receiving worldwide success.

One such movie, Luzzu, was even released commercially in Japan after winning many awards worldwide. The movie is about a Maltese fisherman who is forced to join an illegal black-market fishing operation as he is finding it increasingly difficult to support his family with the income that he receives in the traditional fishing industry.

The movie is interesting as it offers a glimpse into the challenges that are being experienced by the Maltese fishing industry in the modern economy. As a result, Japanese audiences had the opportunity to get some insight into this issue while also being entertained by a high-quality production.

Trailer of Japanese release for Luzzu


A souvenir for your trip: Traditional Maltese glassware

Many aspects of art and culture introduced by the Knights of Malta are still thriving in Malta today. One of the most iconic Maltese handicrafts is glassworking. The creative, colorful designs found only in Malta are often prized overseas. Every piece is handmade, and taking one home that suits your fancy is sure to serve as the perfect memento of an unforgettable trip.

©Malta Tourism Authority

©Malta Tourism Authority

What did you think of your music journey to Malta? There are still many more places to go! Please look forward to our next destination.

(Produced in collaboration with the Embassy of the Republic of Malta to Japan, who also provided photos.)

Min-On Concert Association

-Music Binds Our Hearts-