March 28, 1566: The cornerstone of the city of Valletta is laid. It is the capital of Malta, a small island nation in the Mediterranean Sea just south of Sicily, east of Tunisia, and north of Libya. Malta covers just 122 square miles and has a population of about 416,000 making one of the world’s smallest yet most densely populated countries. The capital city of Valletta covers just 0.3 square miles and has a population of almost 7,000. It is colloquially called Il-Belt (The City) in Maltese. The Order of the Knights of Saint John, also called the Knights Hospitaller, were among the most famous of the Roman Catholic military orders in the Middle Ages. They arrived on Malta in 1530 and found the only building, a small watchtower dedicated to Erasmus of Formia (Saint Elmo).
In 1552, they demolished the tower and built…
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