Jean de Valette is, of course, the very same grandmaster that ordered the building of the capital and lent his name to that very same capital. So it’s only fitting that he should be honoured not only with his own square, but also with a monument.
The De Valette monument is found in a small, pretty square just behind the Opera House. The square, called Piazza Jean de Valette, was inaugurated relatively late in the day, in 2012. However, city residents had long clamoured for an appropriate way to honour the man responsible for the very existence of Valletta.
You’d think that the site would have a solemn aura, more attractive to historians than tourists. But you’d be very wrong. The Jean de Valette monument is selfie central, and not only for tourists. Everyone likes to take a cheeky snap with the city’s favourite grandmaster, and many get quite creative about it, so feel free to throw your best at him! The monument is often ‘dressed up’ on particular occasions, with de Valette becoming the unwitting participant in many a festival.
De Valette or La Valette?
No sooner was the square inaugurated, than a fresh controversy erupted in true Maltese tradition. This time, it was the actual grandmaster’s name that had everyone quibbling. Was it Jean de la Valette, or was the ‘la’ superfluous? Yes, you’d be right thinking that we do pick the strangest things to argue about.
Historians eventually agreed that the official name was de Valette, but since the grandmaster somehow became known as La Valette in common parlance, this version stuck.