Malta, Venice and the Adriatic
Part 1

September 20 - October 6, 2010

This portion of our trip was organized by Road Scholar, and we were
two in a party of 19, plus a leader and a lecturer.  Much of the trip
was aboard the MV Discovery.
Prior to embarking on the MV Discovery,
we had roughly three days in Malta.
San Anton Palace is located in midst of its gardens on the island of Malta.  This is the official residence of the president of Malta, and it also serves as a guest house for visitors like Queen Elizabeth II.

This sort of casual setting is probably OK for a republic having a population of about 413,000.   The Maltese language is interesting.  It is an off-shoot of Arabic, dating from the 909 assumption of power by the Sicilian Arabs.  Now Maltese is the only Semitic language written with Latin letters.
San Anton Palace
Malta has three main islands, and we stayed on Malta.  We took a ferry to Gozo where this tour bus picked us up.  The other buses were similarly named.  Malta is a very religious country, with 365 churches.  In fact, 98% of the population is Roman Catholic.Tour Bus
The Ggantija Temples were constructed between 3600 and 3000 BC, making them older than Stonehenge and the pyramids of Egypt.  It is believed that these temples served a female deity, a goddess of fertility.Ggantija Temples
This altar is found in one of the inner rooms of the Ggantija Temple.Altar in Ggantia Temple
Ramparts of the Gozo Citadella.  There was a fortress here for hundreds of years before the Knights of St. John built the present Gozo Citadel between 1599 and 1603, to protect the residents from marauding Muslim corsairs.  This is within the town of Victoria.

In 1530, Charles I of Spain leased Malta to the Knights of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem, and they became known by the shorter Knights of Malta.  Much of the lasting development of Malta can be traced to those knights.
Ramparts of Gozo Citadel
The Rotunda Church of Xewkija is actually a modern church, consecrated in 1978 after 27 years of construction.  It is on the site of a 1755 church, and its design was inspired by Santa Maria della Salute in Venice.  This church is visible from the Citadel.Cathedral of Gozo
This is the Basilica of St. George in Victoria, the capital of Gozo.  This church is actually pretty old; construction started in 1672 and it was consecrated in 1755.

As you look at this picture and the ones preceding, it is obvious that most everything is the same color in Gozo.  Actually in all of Malta.  The prime construction material is limestone, and the local stone is all the same color.
Basilica of St. George
This is the main island, and we visited the cities of Valletta and Mdina, principally.
A traditional Maltese fishing boat, luzzu, with its eye.  This is in the harbor at Marsaxlokk on the main island of Malta .Luzzu (fishing boat)
Republic Street is the backbone of Valletta, the capital city of Malta.   This street has been graded to be almost perfectly level, but the side streets are really very steep.Republic Street
The interior of St. John's Co-Cathedral is a house of gold.  It was built after the Great Siege of 1565; work actually started in 1572.  The decoration is high Baroque, and one of the treasures is Caravaggio's "Beheading of John the Baptist," which was completed in 1608.

The Knights of St. John were using Malta as a base to upset the Ottomans' quest for domination of the Mediterranean.  They actually captured Gozo in 1551, and then in 1565 attempted to take Malta.  The Knights had fortified the main island, and the Ottomans' siege proved to be famously long and bloody.  The Turks brought in 30,000 to 40,000 men by sea, and lobbed 130,000 cannon balls into Malta over 4 months.  The Maltese defenders numbered between 7,000 and 9,000.  The Turks lost about 2/3 of their forces, and the Maltese about 1/3 of theirs.
St. Johns Co-Cathedral
The Port of Valletta from one of the bastions that resisted the Ottomans.  Cannon balls were flying both ways here in 1565.Port of Valletta
When St. Paul got caught in a storm in 59 AD, while he was going to Rome to appeal his imprisonment in Caesarea.  He came ashore in Malta, lived in a cave and his name has been applied to everything, including these catacombs about 100 feet from his cave.Catacombs
Mdina is the old capital of Malta, and it was important to the Phonecians in 700 BC.  This is St. Paul's Cathedral, but it is "new," having been built after the great earthquake of 1693.  Another Baroque cathedral. Cathedral of St. Paul
This is the inside of the dome of St. Paul's.Dome of St. Pauls
Much of the architecture in Mdina dates to the Fatimid caliphate, which started in 999.   Throughout north Africa, the word medina refers to the old part of any city, and more particularly to a walled city.

This Mdina is also called the silent city, because it has almost no residents, but a lot of visitors.
Mdina Street
From the decks of MV Discovery, we had a different view of Malta and its port.  Still, everything is the same color.Port of Valetta
Our final views of Malta were the fortifications of Malta, the same ones that the Ottomans faced in 1565.  The lights are new, though.Leaving Malta
Korčula, Croatia
In Korčula, as well as some other ports of call, the docks were not large enough even for MV Discovery.  Consequently, the ship anchored, and we were moved between ship and shore by tenders.MV Discovery and tenders
We were not blessed with nice weather in Korčula.  Rain, wind and clouds.  The  house in the left was the residence of Marco Polo, and it remains in the Polo family to this date.  The adjacent church is dedicated to St. Peter.

Korčula is the name of both the old town and the island.  Both were inhabited in prehistoric times.
Marco Polo's House
The streets leading from the center of town to the sea are steep and narrow.Korcula Street
Korčula was originally a walled city, with gates at the north and south.  The north gate was the "Sea Gate," and the south gate was the "Land Gate."  This is the Land Gate, from inside.  From the outside there is a concrete replacement for an old drawbridge that spanned a moat.Land Gate in Korcula
Zadar, Croatia and Krka National Park
Krka National Park was established in 1985 to protect the spectacular Krka River.  The park encloses a series of falls and pools as the Krka River works its way to sea level.Krka River
The final suite of falls, Stradinska Buk, is about 100 yards wide, 400 yards deep.  The total drop exceeds 150 feet. Krka River
The Coast Gate of Zadar was built in 1543, and you can tell by the winged lion that Zadar was under the control of Venice at that time.Town Gate
Zadar has a large number of Roman ruins.  Its Roman foundation goes back to 48 BC.  In this view, a Roman column stands beside the Novi Caffe.Square in Zadar
While Zadar was the scene of fighting for millinea, the most recent fighting was associated with the break-up of Yugoslavia in 1991.  Most of the damage inflicted by Serbia has been repaired, but this building still bears the scars.War Damage in Zadar
The Church of St. Donatus was built in the 9th century.  At that time, Zadar was part of the Byzantine empire.  The foundation of the church is built with Roman stones, and it abuts the old Roman forum.St. Donatus Church
In the afternoon sun, Zadar presents a beautiful skyline when seen from the upper deck of MV Discovery.

Zadar is now a town of about 90,000 people.
Zadar from the Sea
We had two days in Venice, but one afternoon was really rainy.  Venice is such a photogenic city, you will have to accept a small subset of representative scenes.
This is the courtyard of the Doge's Palace in Venice.  This was largely built between 1309 and 1324, but there was some restoration after a 1577 fire.Courtyard of Doge's Palace
This stairway is the formal entrance to the Doge's Palace, leading to the meeting rooms from which the Republic of Venice was governed.Grand Staircase of Doge's Palace
The Archangel Gabriel adorns the top of the Campanile San Marco, just outside the Doge's Palace.Campanile San Marco
The Basilica of San Marco is now the Cathedral of Venice, but that is recent.  In the doge's day, it was a chapel for the Doge's Palace.

This the vault above St. Peter's gate, and it shows the Doge and people of Venice receiving the body of St. Mark.  This scene is a mosaic, and it is representative of the Byzantine design and decor of San Marco.
Entry to Basilica San Marco
Venice is canals.  Wide canals, narrow canals.  And boats for everything.Canal in Venice
This canal has a sidewalk along one side, to better support commerce.Venice Canal
Everything in Venice is done by boat.  UPS has boats.  Ice cream is delivered by boats.  Construction trucks are boats.   And here, adjacent to the walled cemeteries of Isola San Michele, is a hearse. Hearse in Venice
And here, on the same island is Ciesa San Michele in Isola.   Built around 1469, this is the first Renaissance church in Venice.San Michele in Isola
This is the Church of Madonna dell'Orto, and this facade dates to around 1464.  While this church has had a very checkered record of ownership, it is known as Tintoretto's church.  He worshiped here, he is buried here, and several of his paintings reside here.Madonna dell'Orto
Terrestrial Venice is not boring either.  This is a typical passageway, in this case leading to a group of residences.Venice Passageway
Another terrestrial setting is the Piazza Nuovo Ghetto, a large square surrounded by multistory residences.  This is the very first ghetto, the place from which the word originated.  Note the arches behind the left-hand tree.  That is where the Jewish bankers had their offices.

This area is still home to about a third of Venice's 1000 Jewish residents, but there are five synagogues here.
Nuovo Ghetto
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