Away from the hustle and bustle of Valletta’s city centre you will find Hastings Gardens, a peaceful, green area that is the site of many a wedding proposal and an Insta story. The gardens may not be as well-known as their equally verdant cousins, The Upper and Lower Barrakka Gardens, but their charms are no less attractive.
Reaching Hastings Gardens is simple enough – just take an immediate right as soon as you walk into the city, going up the imposing stairs designed by Renzo Piano. As soon as you reach the top you will see the gate to the gardens. You would be forgiven for thinking that this must be some secret doorway into a different world, because the landscape could not be more different from the other landmarks in Valletta.
Hastings Gardens are divided across two terraced levels, and sprawl all the way from the top of the Renzo Piano stairs across the bastions of St John’s and St Michael’s, with a separate entrance gate on the far west.
Each section offers a different kind of vista, with the garden landscape alternating between flower beds and large trees and the views from the bastions sweeping across City Gate, Msida and Ta’ Xbiex creeks, with their spectacular yachts, all the way to Manoel Island, Sliema and Masamxetto Harbour from the lower levels.
Hastings Gardens Historical Legacy
Scattered throughout the gardens are various belvedere spots offering the perfect vantage point from where to snap a few shots. The garden was designed to honour one of Malta’s former British Governors, Lord Hastings, who lies buried within the main monument. There are also a number of other historically-significant structures, such as the Sette Giugno monument and an Armenian cross-stone.
Our tip is to visit right before sunset. If you walk towards the lower end you can see the sun setting directly over the yacht marinas, with the rest of Malta in the distance. We can tell you that #sunset #HastingsGardens are very popular, and you will see why soon enough.
One fun fact that is often recounted by locals is how, in the 1980s, a convenient break in the balustrades turned the gardens into a secret lovers’ meeting spot after dark. Young couples who wanted some alone time away from prying eyes would gain entry to Hastings Gardens by clambering up the low-lying wall.
Unfortunately, parents soon got a whiff of what was happening and it wasn’t too uncommon to see an irate father chasing some hapless teenager down the road, after catching him with his daughter in flagrante. Happily, changing customs have rendered this kind of behaviour unnecessary, and nowadays the only thing Hastings Gardens attract at night are cats and a few owls.