Valletta is the capital of Malta, located on a peninsula with Marsamxett Harbour to the west and Grand Harbour to the east. The Rolex Middle Sea Race start line is located in the centre of Grand Harbour, running from the Saluting Battery, just beneath the Upper Barrakka Gardens on the Valletta side, across to Fort St. Angelo in Birgu (Vittoriosa), on the eastern side. Valletta has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1980 and and was named European Capital of Culture in 2018. The Grand Harbour, home of the race start, is a deep natural harbour regarded as a safe refuge since ancient times. With its breathtaking views of Fort St. Angelo, Fort Ricasoli and the historic Three Cities – Cospicua, Senglea and Vittoriosa it commands the respect of many seafarers, tourists and historians of all nationalities. The building of a city on the Sciberras Peninsula was originally proposed by the Knights Hospitaller, Order of Saint John as early as 1524. However, it was not until the aftermath Great Siege in 1565, that construction began on Valletta’s 16th-century bastions and buildings. The city was named after Jean Parisot de Valette, who successfully led the defence of Malta from the Ottoman invasion. The city is primarily Baroque in character, but now has elements of Mannerist, Neo-Classical and Modern architecture.

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