Plan des Forteresse de Vallete, bourg et sangle de Malte… H Boulange fe. 1645. An engraving representing the city in the XVIIth century, that can be found on gallica.bnf.fr with the signature GE C2362
Coming from Spain Valleta is an interesting city; during the XIXth century most of the Spanish cities demolished their walls to create ensanches, urban extensions with regular layouts in continuity with the old cities. But in Valleta they have had both the city walls remaining in place and the urban extensions, which have managed to fit between bastions. The 1645 view shows the situation of the old city and a prevision for an extension towards the hinterland which has been built.
No doubt, the role of Malta in the Mediterranean, as an island with clear geostrategic qualities (just think of the “unsinkable aircraft carrier” of the British during WWII) has led to a lesser priority to destroy fortifications as compared to other regions. It is a wonderful place to see renaissance and baroque urban fortresses, and a city from the same moments which is well conserved and extremely attractive for photography.
St Angel Castle in the 1645 engraving
St Angel’s Castle as it can be seen from central Valleta nowadays
What was to become the “new city”, today’s Floriana
The main gate to the old city from Floriana. You can notice the deep moat, and the much more recent gate
A view of the eastern coast of the main penninsula
Kurfürstendam, Berlin; a top retail location with major franchises
Even if this seems self-evident, it is not always that true when talking about urban planning: the street is a space with its own rules in terms of retail. The pedestrian’s perception (or the perception by motorists) is marked by that logic of motion, and usually the location of shops of different specialities (and therefore, different profit margins) is organised according to the visibility or accesibility provided by each street. On a wide avenue you will have usually higher rents, and higher profit margin shops (apparel, department stores…), while other retailers or services (small restaurants, the showroom of a wholesale textile firm) will be on secondary streets. On urban cores beyond a certain size the retail activities generally organize in “blurbs”, but each kind of store (and each quality range) occupies specific locations, and the street becomes an organizing system.
Republic Street, the main axis in the historical core of La Valleta
A small convenience shop in a secondary street in La Valleta