The author of Battle of Britain, Normandy '44, Dam Busters, and Fortress Malta, James Holland is a bestselling historian, writer, and broadcaster. He has written and presented the BAFTA-shortlisted BBC TV documentaries Battle of Britain and Dambusters, and Normandy 44 - a special BBC anniversary film telling the full story of the wider D-Day campaign. Co-founder and programme director of the Chalke Valley History Festival, James has his own collection at the Imperial War Museum, and is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society.
Malta with James Holland
Sitting between Europe and Africa, Malta's location in the Mediterranean has meant it has been strategically important throughout history. Colonised by the Phoenicians, the Romans, Byzantines and Aghlabids, Spanish, British and Ottomans have variously ruled or laid seige to the island. The story of World War II Malta, however, is perhaps not as well known. On this fascinating eight-day tour of the magical island, you will learn about the history during the conflict from broadcaster and author of Fortress Malta - An Island Under Siege, James Holland.
Vital in the battle against the Italian navy in the Axis shipping lanes, the island suffered devastation at the hands of German and Italian bombers. The people's courage under this bombardment saw the island awarded the George Cross by King George VI in 1942. James will deliver an exclusive talk on the subject as well as answering any questions you might have in a private Q&A session. He will also join you on a tour of the 16th-century city of Valletta, which during World War II was effectively razed to the ground. With its tall honey-coloured houses, bedecked with geraniums, the lively buzz belies the dramatic history of the city.
Heading further back in time, you will visit two of the world's oldest free-standing structures in prehistoric temples Ggantija and Hagar Qim and enjoy the delights of ancient capital Mdina, as well as the unspoilt island of Gozo. In Rabat, you will discover over a thousand tombs in the fourth-century Christian burial chambers of St Paul's, which provide some of the earliest evidence of the religion on the island. You will also have ample time at your leisure to explore the rugged coastline or enjoy the country's fabulous fishing restaurants.
Reasons to book
Meet James Holland
Tour Valletta with James
Discover unspoilt Gozo
Visit Malta’s vineyards
See the Church of Mosta
Exclusive talk from James
Your expert guide
- Drinks reception, exclusive talk and Q&A with James Holland
- Tour of Valletta with James Holland
- Seven nights' half-board accommodation at the four-star Maritim Antonine Hotel & Spa
- Return flights and transfers
- Tours of Gozo and Rabat
- Visits to Mdina, Marsaxlokk, Ggantija and Hagar Qim
- The services of an expert tour manager
On arrival in Malta, you will be transferred to your hotel. This evening, James Holland will join you for an informal drinks reception.
Day2Tour Valletta with James HollandValletta, Malta
Enjoy a guided walking tour or the wonderful 16th-century city of Valletta in the company of James Holland. One of the world's strongest fortresses, located on a natural harbour, it has changed little since it was built by the Knights of St John. Visit the remarkable St John's Cathedral with its intricate marble floor and gold-leaf decorated ceiling and Caravaggio's The Beheading of John the Baptist. You will also learn the story of the island at the Malta Experience before moving on to the archaeological museum, Grand Master's Palace or the National War Museum at Fort Elmo. This evening, James will deliver an exclusive talk and then answer your questions during a private Q&A session.
The sleepy island of Gozo is today's destination. The charming medieval town of Rabat's Citadel is visible from most of the island and its surrounding twisting streets and alleyways are ripe for exploration. You will then drive to Dwejra Bay, where dramatic coastal formations surround an inland sea and sheer cliffs plunge into deep blue waters. Later, it's on to the largest and best preserved of the island's prehistoric temple sites, Ggantija, which is even older than the pyramids and Stonehenge. Some of the stones weigh several tonnes and stand six metres high. Legend says they were carried to their site around 3,600BC by a female giant.
Today is yours to explore as you choose. Perhaps visit the underground burial chambers and temple, the Hypogeum (visits must be booked in advance) or just enjoy St Julian's and its picturesque quayside and excellent fish restaurants.
Day5Rabat, MdinaRabat, Malta
In the morning, you will head for Rabat to discover the earliest archaelogical evidence of Christianity in Malta, the maze of fourth-century burial chambers of St Paul's catacombs. Next stop today is the Wignacourt Museum, perfect for art and history lovers. Formerly the baroque residence of the Chaplains of the Knights of Malta, the museum has a superb collection of art and sculptures. You will then explore the Roman catacombs and World War II shelters below the ground. This afternoon's highlight is Mdina, perched on a hill, surrounded by huge walls. There you will see the Church of Mosta, with the third largest dome in the world.
After a morning at leisure, you will explore Malta's vineyards, home to the island's burgeoning wine industry. After a tour of the wine estate near Mdina, you will enjoy a tasting
Day7Blue Grotto, Hagar QimQrendi, Malta
See the mesmerising waters of the Blue Grotton on a coastal drive before you explore the prehistoric Unesco-listed temples of Hagar Qim. Enjoy lunch in the fishing village of Marsaxlokk before taking a short walking tour of the fortified city of Vittoriosa.
Day8Return homeLuqa, Malta
Today, you'll be transferred to the airport for your journey home.
Maritim Antonine Hotel
A beautiful hotel with panoramic views across the village of Mellieħa
The Maritim Antonine Hotel and Spa is situated in the picturesque village of Mellieħa, in its own delightful botanical gardens. Its 218 rooms are all spacious and comfortable, with modern amenities including air conditioning, free WiFi, a telephone, TV, refrigerator and tea and coffee making facilities. Most rooms also have their own balcony, with views out over the village, the gardens or the Mediterranean. Guests enjoy the use of various restaurants and bars, serving everything from first rate formal dining to relaxed poolside drinks. Barbecues are frequently held by the outdoor pool, accompanied by live entertainment. In addition to the outside pool, the hotel boasts a heated indoor pool and a wonderful rooftop pool on the sun terrace. Guests may also use the whirlpool, freshwater jacuzzi, ice grotto, sauna and steam rooms situated in the onsire Marion Mizzie Wellbeing Spa. personalised treatments are available in the private treatment rooms here and all guests have free use of the fully equipped gym, where a gym instructor can give advice. Personal trainers are also available, and guests can recover from an energising work out in the lounge and relaxation area.
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