A while back, we gave you a list of some of the most haunted places in Malta. Thanks to your suggestions and keeping in mind that some of the original places were slightly out of people’s way, here’s a list of seven haunted or downright creepy places in Valletta you can visit this weekend…or if you dare, hang out and have a picnic at. Who knows – maybe you’ll end up with more company than initially planned.
1. Ġiġa’s House
It’s practically impossible to find one person in Malta who hasn’t heard the story of the gruesome murder (and partial beheading and throwing into a laundry machine) of eight-year-old Anthony “Twannie” Aquilina in 1960.
Dozens of Xarabank features later, it doesn’t seem like one conclusive story can still be agreed upon. Many agree that it was his parents, Leli and Ġiġa —who were indeed found guilty of murder— but the drastic decrease in punishment from the death penalty, to life imprisonment, to later ten years, is still the cause of many heated debates.
2. Russian Culture Centre
Originally, this building on Merchant Street at the corner with St. Lucia Street belonged to Jean Parisot de Valette’s secretary – Sir Oliver Starkey. He was one of the last English Knights in the Order of Saint John, and was actually in Malta during the Great Siege of 1565.
When the building started being used again, this time as the Russian Culture Centre, various creepy reports started coming in. The most famous one was in 1990, when guests living in the house said they were woken up at night by the sounds of cutlery and voices as if a grand banquet were taking place in the building’s living room.
One of the guests was the RCC’s own director Dr. Zolina, who later received complaints from the neighbours because of “all the parties they had been holding at their house”. A couple of years later, the story went public, and nowadays, people say that even the night guards themselves refuse to stay on duty alone.
3. Manoel Theatre
Now here’s one that comes with a whole bunch of stories. The Manoel is Europe’s third-oldest working theatre, and the oldest theatre still in operation in the Commonwealth.
Various producers, actors and night guards have quite a lot to say about Manoel Theatre, and the scariest part is that the place seems to be teeming with activity. One of the stories talks about Box 1 (the one closest to the stage), where reports include seeing it randomly fog up or even having a shadowy figure sit down in it.
Other people who have performed there before recall hearing doors being slammed open and closed deep backstage, and the creepiest accounts are about a woman who has on multiple occasions been heard to sing lullabies at night. The voice is said to be that of the mistress of Grand Master de Vilhena, who built the theatre in 1732.
Down deep in Valletta lies a neighbourhood that was originally intended as a small sheltered harbour for the Order’s galleys. When the rocks there proved to be unsuitable for construction, the pen project was abandoned, and houses began to be built just ten years after the Great Siege.
By focusing on housing as many people as possible (unlike the lavish palaces that were being built just up the road), the area very quickly turned into a slum area. By the early 20th century, the neighbourhood housed over 2,500 people in an area of just around four streets, becoming the place with the worst sanitary conditions on the entire Maltese Islands.
The extremely poor and crowded conditions that these people lived in lead to constant reports of heated arguments and physical violence, and there was a time where that stigma lead to no one venturing into the Mandraggio, other than sanitary inspectors, priests, and the police. The slums were eventually demolished but you can’t help but stop and think about what lies beneath it all.
5. The Grand Master’s Palace
You can’t really have a Palazz without its fair share of creepy stories! Construction started less than ten years after the Great Siege, and it’s served a grand deal of purposes over the years, most recently being the Office of the President of Malta.
The site of the palace was originally occupied by several other buildings, including knight’s houses. It’s not really known which of these former residences have the most significant supernatural influence on the whole building, but it sure is a big old cocktail mix of ghost stories.
The most famous one comes from an English lady who stayed at the palace when it was the residence of the British Governor, who said she used to hear the sounds of cats and dogs fighting in one of the rooms, but always used to find absolutely nothing and no one once entering the room.
Other sightings have also mentioned a large vanishing cat jumping through windows, and the presence of ghosts has been frequently reported by people who have slept at the palace. The fact that the building also houses the Palace Armoury is definitely a creepy bonus. While the palace won’t be open for guests during the wee hours of the night, we’d recommend checking out its perimeter from the back, where the stables used to be, and where there reportedly was a number of small doors to the palace that have now been all walled up.
6. Strait Street
Valletta’s very own original red light district. Most of the bars of Strait Street were boarded up for many years, but some stories still persist from the dives that were once the notoriety of the city; the Silver Horse, the White Star, the Egyptian Queen, and many more.
We’ve already mentioned Splendid Hotel in this street, an old brothel that once saw the brutal murder of an escort in an upstairs bathroom. But each and every walled up, abandoned building in this area has a story to tell, if only you’re brave enough to hear it.
One of them tells the tale of a British gentleman who was approached by two ladies and invited to accompany them to their house. What he found was a magnificent residence with a garden full of ripe orange trees, and an arch upon which he noticed the inscription Omni Somnia (“everything is a dream”). When the man asked about the house the following day, he was told that it had been uninhabited for about 100 years and it was said to be haunted by two sisters.
7. The Sacra Infermeria
Sure, it’s the beautiful Mediterranean Conference Centre now, and it’s full of bright lights and loud sounds and the hustle and bustle of famous celebrities and politicians, but when the event is over and everyone goes home, it’s still the 16th Century Knights Hospital for things like venereal and contagious diseases.
We repeat; one of the longest halls in Europe was at one point filled to the brim with dying people. Even in an alternate universe where people aren’t to this very day coming up with new, terrifying stories of the weird happenings in the MCC at night, this place is still Creepsville Centre.
BONUS: St. Anne’s Chapel in Fort St. Elmo
Oh no, we weren’t going to forget this one. Widely regarded as not only one of the most haunted places in Valletta but in the whole of Malta altogether, Fort St. Elmo has a never ending list of haunted stories. In fact, the only longer list would be that of all the people who died there.
In the three weeks of siege which saw it finally fall onto Ottoman control in 1565, nearly 10,000 people were killed within its walls, with most of the very last Knights being injured to the point of barely being able to stand up, still fighting off the literally thousands of invaders on the altar of the chapel in the fort. When even these were killed, by the way, their heads were put on stakes around the perimeter of the fort, and their headless bodies were crucified and sent on small rafts to the Knight’s headquarters in Fort Saint Angelo. So there’s that going for it as well.
Back when Fort St. Elmo was the Police Academy, no police officer reportedly dared to step into the chapel unless accompanied by a fellow officer, and police dogs would sometimes remain at the door of empty rooms in the fort and endlessly bark at the nothigness or fearfully cower away behind the officers.
Once, a visiting tourist came out of the chapel crying and shouting because she said she had seen blood oozing out of the the walls, and every nook and cranny of this relatively tiny fort is filled with stories of slamming doors, extreme bouts of freezing cold gusts in the middle of summer, and ghost sightings. So yeah.