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By the turn of the 16th century, Valletta was a sizeable city. People from across
the Islands came to live within the safety of its bastions.
Valletta was soon pre-eminent in the life of the Order and the Islands. However,
the Three Cities, across the harbour, the first home to the Knights, retained
economic importance because of their docks. Mdina, the old medieval capital,
all but lost its role and became a backwater. It remained home to the Maltese
nobility, descendents of the Sicilian and Spanish overlords.
World War II brought havoc to Malta. Valletta was badly destroyed by bombardment,
but the city managed to withstand the war with many of its treasures, such as
the Knights' masterpiece, St John's Cathedral, intact.
Today Valletta has a smaller population than before the war, but it is a bustling
place as the Islands' main business centre and the seat of government