CAUTION: Geography Nerd Ahead
I’m actually going to make a whole ‘nother entry detailing my first afternoon in Malta and the “other” country that I visited. That’s right, technically, there is another country inside of Malta. The Sovereign Military Order of Malta is actually its own nation. Here’s where it gets weird: This country has its own passport, its own prince, and its recognized by the UN…but owns no land! I’m serious – this is not some crazy riddle. The story is pretty cool, and I’ll explain it on a separate article.
But that begs the question: Just how does one “visit” a country that has no land? Well, this country leases three properties around the world: Two in Italy and one in Malta. Well I’m in Malta, and it just so happens that the leased quarters of one of the order’s knights was located just across the harbor. I guess my afternoon was now booked!
I dropped my bags at my hotel and headed over on foot to catch the Three Cities Ferry that would usher me across the water. Once across, I headed up and into Fort San Angelo, where The Sovereign Military Order of Malta leases the top section. I’d read conflicting reports and wasn’t sure if I could get in without a scheduled tour appointment, but I was so close, I couldn’t not try!
It was almost closing time by the time I trekked up that steep stone ramp and into the reception. I talked Mr. Misfud at the front desk and was relieved and delighted that he’d be able to give me a tour, including showing me “up top.” What a score!
Mr. Misfud gave me a fantastic and very educational tour of the fort, providing a wonderful history lesson on Malta. I learned so much in such a short amount of time. What a fascinating country! My biggest takeaways included just how important Malta’s location was/is, strategically and politically speaking. Its location in the Mediterranean, smack-dab between Europe and Africa, make it one of the most important pieces of land anywhere in the world. Malta was also the most bombed nation during WWII. But what fascinated me the most was just how many empires had held control of Malta over the centuries: the Phoenicians, Romans, Vandals, Goths, Arabs, Ottomans, the French, British and more. The number of different ruling empires of Malta made my head spin!
While I enjoyed and appreciated all of Mr. Misfud’s knowledge on Malta and the fort, I was all the time so anxious to make it to the top. It still felt too good to be true and I’d heard entering this “top” portion of the fort was not easy. The hairs on my arms stood straight up as we turned the corner to see the iron gate (which was open) under the Sovereign Military Order of Malta crest. This was actually happening!!!
Special shout out to my man Jonny Blair, who I leaned all about this place from! You should definitely check out Jonny’s article on the Sovereign Military Order of Malta HERE.