Malta (Jan. 2023)

I decided to use ChatGPT to general some of the text on this page. I did this to see what ChatGPT could do and its results were quite impressive. It certainly was much faster than I could produce because I would have to go back and look at my notes and fact-check some of the details. Although the text read like travel brochures, if I framed the questions by highlighting certain points, ChatGPT did provide a better answer.

For this introduction, I asked ChatGPT the following: Could you give a brief introduction on Malta. Specifically, its geography and history and highlight the following: its size, its strategic location, its position in the EU, its language, when it gained its independence and from whom, the Great Siege in 1565 by the Ottoman, and siege in WWII, etc.

Its answer is a bit mechanical but it is good. I would have named the three islands: Malta, Gozo, and Comino. Instead of just saying it played a significant role in European history due to its strategic location at the crossroads of the Mediterranean, I would have been more specific and said it is situated between North Africa and Sicily. Rather than using the term inhabited, I would have said conquered. I think if I continue the “conversation” with ChatGPT, it would refine its answer and produce something even better. Finally, the biggest drawback in using ChatGPT is the absence of the personal voice, an essential element in any good travel blog.

ChatGPT: Malta is a small island nation located in the Mediterranean Sea, south of Sicily, Italy. The archipelago is made up of three islands, with Malta being the largest and most populous. Despite its size, Malta has played a significant role in European history due to its strategic location at the crossroads of the Mediterranean.

Malta has a rich and diverse history, with evidence of human settlement on the islands dating back to prehistoric times. Throughout its history, the islands have been inhabited and ruled by a variety of civilizations, including the Phoenicians, Romans, Arabs, and Knights of St. John.

One of the defining moments in Malta’s history was the Great Siege of 1565, when the Ottoman Empire attempted to invade the islands but was repelled by a small but determined force of Knights and Maltese soldiers. This event has come to symbolize the resilience and bravery of the Maltese people in the face of adversity.

In the 20th century, Malta gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1964 and became a republic in 1974. The Maltese language, a unique blend of Semitic and Romance influences, is the official language of the country, although English is widely spoken and used in official and business contexts.

During World War II, the island of Malta was a crucial strategic location for the Allies, and suffered heavy bombing by Axis powers due to its importance as a naval base. Today, Malta is a popular tourist destination known for its sunny climate, beautiful beaches, and rich cultural history.

I spent a week in Malta in January, 2023. Using the photos I took there, I have created a number of thematic videos. A couple of them were too big to upload to my server and I have to rely on the links to Google Photos. If you have difficulty access any of the following video, please send me a note using the form on the bottom of this page. As usual, it is best to view the videos in full screen mode.

I asked ChatGPT to write a paragraph on Valletta that contains: its size, contour, and history. Also to expand on the history of the Knights of St. John.

ChatGPT: Valletta is the capital city of Malta, a small island nation in the Mediterranean Sea. With a population of just over 6,000 people, Valletta is one of the smallest capital cities in Europe, but it is full of history and character. The city’s contours are defined by steep, narrow streets that wind through the rocky terrain, and it is surrounded by fortifications and a deep harbor that have protected the city for centuries. Valletta has a rich history, having been founded by the Knights of St. John in the 16th century and serving as a crucial military outpost during World War II. The Knights of St. John, also known as the Knights Hospitaller, were a military order founded in Jerusalem in the 11th century. Their primary mission was to care for sick and injured pilgrims traveling to the Holy Land, but they also became a powerful military force that fought in numerous Crusades. In 1530, the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V granted the Knights the island of Malta as a home base, and they quickly set about fortifying the island and building a new capital city, Valletta. Under the Knights’ rule, Malta became an important center of trade and culture, and the city of Valletta was considered one of the most beautiful in Europe. The Knights remained in power until 1798, when they were expelled by Napoleon’s army. Today, the legacy of the Knights can still be seen in Malta’s architecture, cuisine, and cultural traditions.

Mdina is a short bus ride from Valletta. Since the time of antiquity, this fortified city was Capital of Malta. The word Mdina is probably derived from the Arab word Medina, which simply means city. Presently, the term Medina is used to donate to old walled city in North Africa.

Although it is part of the larger suburb now. The walled city, with a population of about 300, still retained much of its architectural charm. It is often referred to as the Silent City. During my visit on an early Sunday afternoon, it was indeed really quiet but I was there during low season.

See if you can spot the Bolt food delivery guy whom I saw a few times inside the walled city within 30 minutes. I think he had a tough time locating an address.

Valletta at Night

Valletta At Night: If you enjoy a lively nightlife, Valletta is not the place to stay. We arrived on a weekend about 9:00 pm and all the shops were closed and we could not even find a restaurant that still served food and had to settle in eating some bread with a charcuterie board at a very quiet pub next to the hotel. I went out for walks a few nights and it was eerily quiet.

Steps in Three Cities, Malta

I asked it to write a general paragraph on the Three Cities for someone who has never been there before.

ChatGPT: Three Cities, also known as the Cottonera, is a historic area located in the southeast of Malta. The area is made up of three fortified cities, Vittoriosa, Senglea, and Cospicua, which were built by the Knights of St. John in the 16th century. Three Cities is known for its rich history and architectural heritage, with narrow streets and old buildings that date back to the medieval period. Visitors can explore the area’s museums, churches, and palaces, as well as enjoy stunning views of the Grand Harbour. Three Cities is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in Malta’s history and culture.

Another paragraph generating by ChatGPT. Except in this case, I asked it to highlight the National Shrine whose name I actually forgot.

ChatGPT: Gozo is a beautiful and serene island located in the Mediterranean Sea, just a short ferry ride away from the larger island of Malta. This charming destination is known for its picturesque landscapes, rich history, and idyllic beaches. One of the must-visit attractions on Gozo is the National Shrine of the Blessed Virgin of Ta’ Pinu, which is considered one of the most important religious sites in Malta. The shrine, which dates back to the 16th century, is set against a stunning backdrop of rolling hills and countryside, and features a grand facade and intricate mosaics. Visitors can explore the interior of the church and learn about its history, or simply take a peaceful moment to reflect and appreciate the spiritual atmosphere.

Another one by ChatGPT. I asked about the funding source and to include the elements of a Chinese garden. Its description reads like a official brochure.

ChatGPT: The Chinese Garden of Serenity Park in Santa Luċija, Malta, is a beautiful and peaceful oasis that offers visitors a serene escape from the bustle of daily life. This tranquil garden was created through the collaboration between the governments of Malta and China, with funding for its construction provided by the People’s Republic of China. The garden’s design draws inspiration from traditional Chinese gardens, featuring winding paths, lush vegetation, and peaceful water features.

The Chinese Garden of Serenity Park is a testament to the cultural exchange between Malta and China, and offers a unique opportunity for visitors to experience the beauty and tranquility of a traditional Chinese garden in the heart of the Mediterranean. In addition to its stunning natural beauty, the garden also features a range of cultural and educational activities, including workshops on Chinese culture and calligraphy, as well as regular cultural performances and events. Whether you’re looking to relax and unwind, or to learn more about the rich cultural heritage of China, the Chinese Garden of Serenity Park is a must-visit destination in Malta.