Discovering the churches in Valletta

The Christian faith was brought in Malta by St. Paul that shipwrecked on the island as a captive en route to Rome in A.D. 60.; therefore, Maltese can be considered among the oldest Christian peoples in the world. Testifying to this strong bond that links the island with religion, over 360 churches and chapels are scattered through Malta, and over 25 of them are found in Valletta. They form an integral part of the landscape and are at the heart of Maltese social and cultural life. During a trip through Malta, you absolutely must visit some of these religious building, real works of art that boast intricate decorations, sculptures and old paintings by famous artists depicting saints, angels and sacred symbols.

Malta, Church of Our lady of Mount Carmel dome
Malta, Church of Our lady of Mount Carmel dome

Our top five:

1) St John Co-Cathedral

It is one of the largest cathedrals in the world and one of the primary examples of Baroque architecture in Europe, embellished by Caravaggio’s paintings and works by Mattia Preti. The Cathedral, like the entire centre of Valletta, is part of the UNESCO World Heritage sites and it was the conventual church of the Order of the Knights of St John for over 200 years. The construction of the Co-Cathedral was commissioned by the Grand Master Jean de la Cassiere and was completed in 1577 and dedicated to St John the Baptist, the patron saint of the Order. The oratory and sacristy were constructed in 1598, during the Grand Master Martin Garzez, and were completed during the reign of Grand Master Alof de Wignacourt in 1604.

Valletta, the nave of St John Co-Cathedral
Valletta, the nave of St John Co-Cathedral

2) Our Lady of Victory

The small 16th century “Our Lady of Victory” church is significant for the history of Malta because it was the first church erected in Valletta. It was built on the order of Grandmaster Perellos de la Valette to commemorate the victory over the Ottoman invaders during the Great Siege in 1565.

Valletta, Church of Our Lady of Victories
Valletta, Church of Our Lady of Victories

3) St Paul Anglican Pro-cathedral

The Church was built between 1839 and 1844 and financed by the Dowager Queen Adelaide, widow of King William IV and aunt of Queen Victoria. It is one of three cathedrals of the Anglican Diocese of Gibraltar in Europe that covers more than 150 chaplaincies in the whole of Europe, Morocco, Turkey and Mongolia. The Religious building is called “Pro-cathedral” because it is a subsidiary cathedral for the Southern and Eastern Europe.

Valletta, St Paul Pro Cathedral
Valletta, St Paul Pro-Cathedral bell tower

4) Malta, St. Paul ‘s Shipwreck Church in Valletta

The Church is dedicated to the shipwreck of St Paul on the shore of Malta, and it’s one of the oldest of the island dating back to the 17th century. St Paul is considered to be the spiritual father of the Maltese, and his shipwreck is popularly regarded as the most significant event in the nation’s history. The church hosts excellent artistic works, including the magnificent altarpiece by Matteo Perez d’Aleccio, the choir and dome of Lorenzo Gafa, the paintings by Attilio Palombi, and Giuseppe Cali and the titular statue of Melchiorre Gafa.

Valletta,St. Paul ‘s Shipwreck Church
Valletta, St. Paul ‘s Shipwreck Church

5) Basilica of Our Lady of Mount Carmel

The Basilica is a Roman Catholic Church designed by Girolamo Cassar around 1570 and dedicated to Our Lady. Unfortunately, the church was hit by aired bombing and severely damaged during World War II and rebuilt from 1958 to 1981 with the oval design by the architect Guze D’Amato. The 42-meter high oval dome is a symbol of Valletta, and it dominates both the city skyline and Marsamxett Harbour. The Church, inaugurated in 1981, boasts a painting of Our Lady of Mount Carmel dating from the early 17th century (located at the back of the high altar) and interior sculptures by the sculptor Joseph Damato.

Valletta,Basilica of Our Lady of Mount Carmel
Valletta, Basilica of Our Lady of Mount Carmel
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