Housed in a renovated 400-year-old fort in the heart of pedestrianized Valletta, the St James Cavalier Centre for Creativity has become the city’s go-to cultural hub. While its rugged interior remains largely unchanged, it features an art-house cinema, theater-in-the-round, a small concert hall, and a series of temporary art exhibitions. Summer sees jazz concerts, British comedy shows, contemporary exhibitions, creative-writing courses for children, and celebrations of dance and music. Concerts are also held at the adjacent church of St Catherine.
Built of honey-colored sandstone blocks, the fort itself was built after the Knights of St John repelled the Ottoman invaders in the Great Siege of 1565; this was an era of great construction as the knights commissioned the heavily fortified city of Valletta to be built on its rocky promontory. St James Cavalier was one of the first buildings to be completed, set into the fortified walls and designed as a look out and gun platform to ward off further invasion from the sea.
Over the centuries the fort has functioned as a NAAFI for the British Army and housed the Maltese Government printing press. Its utilitarian beginnings now overthrown, in the years since it opened in 2000 it has become the island’s best-loved arts center.
St James Cavalier Centre for Creativity is in the pedestrianized area of Valletta and can be reached on foot in five minutes from the main bus terminus. There is plenty of parking around the gateway to the old city. The arts center is open daily all year around. Exhibitions are free of charge and ticket prices vary for the concerts and performances.