Senglea © Frank Vincentz
Malta's main maritime towns have merged into a fortified conglomerate known as the Three Cities, resting on the promontories opposite Valletta. Vittoriosa is the oldest town in Malta after Mdina. It features plenty of historical architecture, including several of the Inns of the Knights of St John, as well as a hospital built by the Order in 1672, which is still a Benedictine convent inhabited by devout nuns. Fort St Angelo, the oldest fortified part of Vittoriosa, dating from 1274, stands at the tip of the promontory, and the Museum of Maritime History is also well worth a visit. The youngest of the Three Cities, Cospicua, dates from 1717 and features some interesting churches, while Senglea, designed by Grandmaster De La Sengle in 1551, is an important place of pilgrimage. Senglea's parish church contains a statue of Christ the Redeemer that is said to have miraculous powers.
There are many great restaurants and bars in the Three Cities and the marina area is becoming increasingly popular. The best way to explore the area is on a walking tour, following which it is wonderful to just wander around the older areas seeking out unexpected treasures. Apart from the rich history, the Three Cities are famed for their residents' enthusiastic celebration of holy days and festas, the most exciting of which is the Easter procession, when statues of Jesus Christ are carried at a run through crowded streets.