No One Ever Conquered Us

Knights, businesspeople and artists: a journey through the lives of the well-to-do in the EU’s smallest country

Malta is not only Europe’s bank. Four years on from the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, if you dig a little deeper, beyond the corruption and property speculation, another country can be found. A country that is more honest, populated by a lively and cosmopolitan polite society, composed of aristocrats, artists, architects and business people. These are the heirs of the knights who, following their arrival from the Old Continent, have ruled over this rock that is little larger than the island of Elba (but with half a million inhabitants) for almost three centuries. They built their capital Valetta from nothing as “a city created by gentlemen for gentlemen”.

Today that rock located sixty miles from Sicily is a member of the European Union and in recent years has achieved record growth, thanks to an advantageous tax system and numerous businesses located in the country. “We don’t have natural resources, we are tiny,” explains architect Konrad Buhagiar, ”and political decisions have always been made very quickly. Also with questionable ethics.” The island had been intended to become the Singapore of the Mediterranean, but many compare it more to Beirut in Lebanon. “The Phoenicians were, in fact, the first to colonise Malta,” explains marquis Nicholas De Piro, ”followed by the Romans, then the Arabs, the Spanish and the English. They all passed here but the truth is that no one truly conquered us. And today not even we know who we really are.”

( 2020 )