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Monday, December 11, 2017

Valletta, Malta: National Archeological Museum - Slightly Disappointing, But Worth A Visit

National Museum of Archeology
Auberge de Provence, Republic Street
Valletta, Malta VLT 1112
Phone: +356 21 221 623
Prices: €€€€

The National Museum of Archeology in Valletta is one of two important museums of this kind in Malta, the other being inside the Cittadella, in Victoria, on the island of Gozo. Situated on the main street of the Capital of Valletta, Republic Street, it is housed in what used to be the Auberge de Provence, a fine Baroque building dating back to 1571 where the Knights of the Order of St. John, those originating from Provence, used to live.

The entrance houses the ticket office and a (very small) gift shop, but offers a beautiful view of the decorated ceiling with beautiful, hundreds of years old, frescoes. The museum consists of two floors and is overall rather small. 

On the ground floor (first floor for you Yanks), one can see artifacts dating back to Malta’s Neolithic period (5,000 BC), including tools and representations of human and animal figures. The highlights on this floor are the original stones with reliefs from the temples of Hagar Qim and Tarxien, as well as the famous “Sleeping Lady” (from the Hal Saflieni Hypogeum) and the “Venus of Malta” (from the Hagar Qim Temple).

The exhibition is enriched by several informative boards and pictures throughout this floor (and the museum), showing the discovery and the excavations of the temples at the beginning of the twentieth-century.

The second floor (or third floor for you Yanks) houses the impressive Grand Salon, with painted ceilings walls and wooden beamed ceilings, but you can only get a glimpse of it from the doorway, directly in front of you as you reach the second floor landing, due to renovation work going on.

The rest of the second floor contains two halls: the Bronze Age Hall and the Phoenician Period Hall. The Bronze Age Hall shows several artifacts, such as pottery, weaving tools, and jewelry. You can also see a reproduction of the cart ruts surrounding the temples of Hagar Qim and Mnajdra in Qrenda as well as many other places on the island.

The Phoenician (or Punic) Hall also contains some interesting objects, including decorated pottery, a shawl in Tyre purple (a dye extracted from the murex shellfish for which the Phoenicians were famously secretive of the process), and an anthropomorphic sarcophagus.

We were extremely disappointed, however, in finding out that one of the Cippi of Melqart was missing from the Punic collection because it was on-loan to another museum during our visit. The two Cippi were unearthed in Malta in the 17th Century and date back to the 2nd Century BC. They are two extremely important artifacts because they contain votive offerings to the god Melgart inscribed in both Ancient Greek and Phoenician, providing a key to deciphering the Phoenician language in 1764. In that way, they are considered the Rosetta Stone of the Phoenician language. One is on display at the Louvre and the second one was supposed to be in this museum, but its absence was not advertised on their website. We happened to ask a staff member who did not even know to which museum the artifact had been loaned.
Cippi of Melqart
Apart from the burning disappointment of not being able to see the famous Cippi of Melquart, the museum was overall an interesting stop and certainly offered several other objects that were worth seeing. Works are currently in progress in the Punic Hall, so we hope to come back one day and see more about these fascinating and mysterious ancient people, as well as the renovated Grand Salon.

At just €8.50 for two, the entrance is very reasonable, even though the museum is rather small with relatively few artifacts, considering the vast history of the Island of Malta and numerous archeological sites around the islands.

CombatCritic Gives The Malta's National Museum Of Archeology 7 Bombs Out Of 10 ... More Bombs Are Better!

Seven Bombs Equates To:

Translation for Civilians: "Shits & Grins"

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January and February
Monday to Sunday: 09.00 - 17.00hrs
Last admission: 16.30hrs

March - December
Monday to Sunday: 09.00 - 18.00hrs
Last admission: 17.30hrs

Closed on 24, 25 & 31 December, 1 January & Good Friday


Adults (18 - 59 years): €5.00
Youths (12 - 17 years) and Seniors (60+), Students: €3.50
Children (6 -11 years): €2.50
Infants (1 -5 years): Free

Title: Valletta, Malta: National Archeological Museum - Slightly Disappointing, But Worth A Visit

Key Words: Valletta, Malta, National Archeological Museum, national, archeological, museum, Venus, Venus of Malta, Cippi of Melquart, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, attraction, museum, review, TripAdvisor

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