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It is regularly ranked among the greatest paintings of all time and is a haunting sight.
Back on the streets of the fortified city — perched high on rocks above a deep harbour — I needed a pint.
He was in Valletta to film Gladiator, released after his death in 2000.
After winning an arm-wrestling contest against crew of the HMS Cumberland, Reed collapsed, having downed eight pints of lager, 12 double rums and half a bottle of whiskey.
Marble tombstones add yet more colour, while an audio tour brings the vivid artwork to life.
It is a lot to take in, even before you reach the room housing the huge Caravaggio canvas The Beheading Of St John The Baptist.
EIGHTIES snooker player Tony Drago, World War Two heroics and a football team that makes even England look good.
The 20-minute trip was great fun and the turquoise waters a visual treat.
Heading back to Valletta, I took in Queen Elizabeth’s former home, when she lived on the island as a naval wife between 19.
And I visited the monument to Sir Winston Churchill, who described Malta as “the unsinkable aircraft carrier” for its unwavering defence against the Axis powers during World War Two.
Less than three hours away by plane, Malta offers a fascinating mix of culture, history, sun and partying. Neck braces should be compulsory for tourists in the capital Valletta, where I joined visitors gazing up in wonder at the jaw-dropping architecture, some of which dates back to the 16th century.
The entire city is recognised on Unesco’s World Heritage list and you needn’t have a religious bone in your body to find St John’s Co-Cathedral heavenly.