Malta has a fantastic history dating back to 6000 BC, and there are plenty of museums you can visit whilst on holiday in Malta. You can enjoy prehistoric temples, Roman villas, medieval burial grounds, world war two underground headquarters and much more. We have put together some of the best museums for you to visit in our comprehensive guide below.
St Paul's Catacombs
Awaken your inner Indiana Jones when you pay a visit to Malta’s own St. Paul’s Catacombs. Located in Rabat, the catacombs feature over 30 special underground tombs that span the St. Paul and St. Agatha catacomb complexes. Fully and thoroughly explored in the late 1800s by Dr. Antonio Annetto Caruana, the site of this sprawling subterranean cemetery most likely originated during the Phoenician-Punic era of Malta’s long and rich history.
The catacombs have many fascinating wonders for history and archaeology buffs and those who love a good adventure into ancient spaces! The catacombs were used late into the 7th century and perhaps even into the 13th century.
St. Paul’s Catacombs are open from 9 am to 5 pm every day, with 20 of the 30 catacombs open for exploration. Come and view the magnificent main complex and see the ceremonial areas carved out of the caverns living rock. Carvings and decor are featured throughout St. Paul’s Catacombs, with arches and pillars carved to make this catacomb feel like a sacred temple.
Interestingly some of the catacombs in question feature tombs bearing pagan, Jewish, and Christian iconography and motifs located all together with no apparent distinction between these three modes of faith. Today, St. Paul’s Catacombs are preserved and maintained by Heritage Malta, who help to keep this incredible site for generations to come. St. Paul’s Catacombs are accessible by bus from Valletta’s terminus. Catch buses 51, 52, and 53 to head to the site of St. Paul’s Catacombs.
The ancient world comes alive and then some when you pay a visit to Malta’s Domvs Romana. Or “Domus” for those who didn’t take Latin in high school! The Domvs Romana, meaning “Roman house”, is a site preserved by the Heritage Malta foundation and offering a keen look into Malta’s history and exquisite examples of Hellenistic art and architecture.
The house was once located within the city limits of the Roman city of Melite, now situated between Mdina and Rabat. The house was built sometime in the first century, but by the 11th century had been converted into a Muslim cemetery.
The Domvs was actually rediscovered a bit by accident! During a landscaping project in the 1800s, workers found some of the ruins as they dug. Come and explore Domvs Romana and experience the beautiful mosaics preserved in pristine conditions. To see the wide and impressive range of artefacts and objects from Malta’s Roman period, visit the Domvs Romana Museum. This is where one can learn more about daily life during the Roman era in Malta. Domvs Romana is the perfect spot for those seeking knowledge about ancient history and those who want to see fabulous Greco-Roman art on display!
Ready for some caving and a deep delve into Malta's incredible history? Or, rather, prehistory may be more accurate when it comes to the Hypogeum of Ħal Saflieni. Hypogeum, meaning "underground" in Greek, can be found in other places in Malta, but it is undoubtedly the Hypogeum of Ħal Saflieni located in Paola that is truly the most remarkable!
The site was discovered by accident, and what a discovery it was. Further research and exploration have found that the labyrinthine Hypogeum of Ħal Saflieni was cut into the limestone and fashioned into chamber and shrines rooms. The Oracle room is a resonance niche hewn from the middle chamber and can project sound throughout the Hypogeum of Ħal Saflieni.
When one visits this incredible site, the mysteries start to flow like a mystical river deep into the very recesses of the Earth itself that does not seem to find an end. The mysteries of the ancient world, of life and the mysterious world of spirits can be explored at the Hypogeum of Ħal Saflieni. When you plumb the mythic depths of the Hypogeum of Ħal Saflieni, you will discover the three layers. The top or upper-level layer features tombs akin to those found in other Hypogeum and catacombs around Malta. The Middle level is an exciting place to explore! Featuring several different rooms and chambers. Some of the rooms include the Oracle Room and the Holy of Holies, which was believed to be a special room reserved for observations on the winter solstice. The lower level, however, comes to mostly an empty level. For now. Who knows what mysteries can be discovered further down in the Hypogeum of Ħal Saflieni? But for those who prefer to mostly keep on the surface of the Earth rather than below it, there is the Hypogeum's museum. Make sure to book your tickets in advance here because visitors to this wondrous subterranean world are limited each day! Don't miss out on this ancient wonder, and visit the Hypogeum of Ħal Saflieni today!
Ghar Dalam Cave
Dwarf elephants, hippos, deer, and bears, oh my! Well, the remains of extinct ones found in the Għar Dalam at least! Għar Dalam is a cave preserving the tale of Malta’s ancient pre-history!
Għar Dalam means “cave of Dalam” and was discovered back in the 1800s. But its mysteries, secrets, and rare discoveries go back far further than that! Għar Dalam has been excavated and explored over the years, and with each layer explored, more wondrous treasures of Malta’s pre-history have been discovered.
Some of the most incredible include the remains of elephants that once roamed the isles and the first evidence of human habitation going back over 7,000 years ago! Among the evidence of early human habitation includes Paleolithic cave paintings done by these early Maltese settlers.
The regular upkeep and renovation of Għar Dalam are all thanks in large to Heritage Malta. Heritage Malta works hard to ensure that the Għar Dalam stays preserved for generations to come! So do not delay, these caves have waited thousands of years for your visit!
A stately and chivalric building, both exquisite and formidable, perfect for curious history lovers or the Instagrammer looking for a truly original setting for content! The Grandmaster's Palace in Valletta is currently the house of the President of Malta, with certain wings and rooms open for public tours run by the Heritage Malta foundation.
When you visit the Grandmaster's Palace, you will see Malta's dignified and wonderful heritage in great splendour! The Grandmaster's Palace was built between the 16th and 18th centuries. This imposing building served as the palace of the Grand Master of the Order of St. John, an order of chivalric knights who once ruled the island.
From the exterior facade to the Throne Room and Tapestry Hall, the palace is all expertly constructed in the manner of a knightly order. Wander in the regal courtyards or admire the many arms and armour once used in Malta's defence in the Armoury. The Armoury is highly renowned and houses superb examples of European culture, art, craftsmanship, and engineering.
Throughout the palace, one can take in the pinnacle of European art in the Maltese style. Neoclassical, Mannerist, and many other art styles that flourished throughout the island's long history are on display both outside and within the Grandmaster's Palace grounds.
And, for those who are interested in a bit of a thrill, if the legends are to be believed, the Grandmaster's Palace is incredibly haunted, too! From the sounds of phantom cats and dogs to the shocking visage of massive ghost cats and other spectres. Make sure to visit the Grandmaster's Palace in the light of day if you are too nervous about running into one of these spooky palatial guests!
Viewing the Grandmaster's Palace in the light of day also has the benefits of offering an expansive view of sights like the clock tower found in Prince Alfred's Courtyard. Or the verdant and exotic plants throughout the grounds. So come and experience Malta's heroic and significant history at the Grandmaster's Palace!