It’s never too early to introduce children to history, especially on holiday. Ben, 11, and Eloise, 8, show you around Malta’s child-friendly historic attractions.
Sometimes it’s not easy pleasing everyone on holiday, especially with children in tow. You may want to explore that gorgeous palazzo you’ve read about, while your little ones are dreaming of sand castles.
Take it from me though, it is possible to reach a happy compromise! I’ve been dragging my two half-Maltese kids along to numerous museums, temples and palazzos for several years in a bid to teach them about where their mother comes from, and while they’re no theme park, these attractions never fail to keep my children entertained. After all, with 7,000 years of exciting history to explore, who wouldn’t be?
I’ve asked Ben, 11, and Eloise, 8, to review some of their favourites and rate them for child-friendliness. This month, they went to war.
Lascaris War Rooms, Valletta
This may not be at the top of your list when you think of child-friendly attractions and, I confess, my kids brought the average visitor age down by a couple of generations that day. But boy did they love it!
The fun began as soon as we bought the tickets. We started our journey back in time at the Saluting Battery in the Upper Barrakka Gardens, where a couple of very jolly 'officers' in period costume greeted us and showed us the way to the war rooms.
Buried deep within the 16th century bastions of Valletta, it is an active trek down several flights of steps and an atmospheric walk through a tunnel before you reach the actual entrance. The children loved the sense of adventure, and thought it was thrilling to discover one of Malta’s “best kept wartime secrets”.
The war rooms consist of a complex of underground tunnels and chambers that housed the war headquarters from where the defence of Malta was conducted during World War II. This is where General Eisenhower and his Supreme Commanders Admiral Cunningham, Field Marshal Montgomery and Air Marshal Tedder directed the invasion of Sicily, codenamed Operation Husky, in 1943. It was used after the war as the headquarters of the Royal Navy’s Mediterranean fleet, and in the late 1960s, NATO used it as a strategic communications centre.
As Ben is a huge fan of the Biggles series of books by Captain W. E. Johns, he was enthralled by the history of the war rooms. It was an eye-opening experience for both him and his sister, especially as they had heard so many war stories from their Maltese grandfather.
Ben says: I absolutely loved this one. I recommend you join a guided tour like I did. I learnt so much, including about Operation Mincemeat and Operation Husky. 10/10
Eloise says: I also loved this and the guide helped us to understand what we were seeing because there wasn’t much information to read alone. 10/10
Mum says: Not a place to come with a pushchair but a fascinating real-life adventure for older children. There is a small cafe and gift shop inside.
Lascaris War Rooms are open from Monday to Sunday, 10am to 5pm. Last tour starts at 4:15pm. Free audio-guides also available. Tickets cost €12 for adults, €5 for children under 16 years, or €25 for a family (2 adults + 3 children). Tickets include the guided tour.