The Maltese Islanders are among the oldest Christian peoples in the world. St Paul, who shipwrecked as a captive on route to Rome in A.D. 60, brought Christianity to Malta.
There are 365 churches and chapels scattered throughout the Islands .In the small island state of Malta, the church or chapel is a common feature of the landscape. Many churches in Malta dominate the skyline. They form an integral part of the Islands’ countryside, dominate village squares and are at the heart of Maltese social and cultural life.
The architecture of the churches is very beautiful and both the outside and the interior is extremely well preserved and decorated with strong colours and Christian artifacts.
Some of the majestic churches can’t be afforded to miss.
St. John’s Co Cathedral: This iconic church is situated in Valletta and was built for the knights of Malta during the late sixteenth century. This lavish chapel designed by the architect Gerolamo Cassar is famous for its majestic baroque architecture and art pieces. The look is enhanced by two impressive bell towers. Interior of the cathedral is highly ornate and boasts intricate baroque detailing, Mattia Preti’s stone carving and vaulted ceilings. The most famous artwork of Caravaggio ‘Beheading of St John the Baptist’ is also housed here. It comprises eight chapels on either of the main structure. Today, St John’s is also a venue for cultural events and is one of the most popular cultural attractions visited by tourists in Malta.
St. Paul’s Shipwreck, Valetta: One of the oldest churches located in Valetta (It dates back to 1577) is famous for its fascinating structure It imbibes in its history a story of many relics associated with the Maltese spiritual father St Paul. Right wrist-bone and the part of column on which the saint was beheaded can also be viewed here.There are artistic treasures including the outstanding altarpiece by Matteo Perez d'Aleccio, the choir and dome of Lorenzo Gafa, the paintings by Attilio Palombi and Giuseppe Cali. The wooden statue of St. Paul was carved in 1657 by Melchior Gafà. Up till this day, the statue is taken out in a procession around Valletta on the feast day of St Paul's Shipwreck,every February 10th.
Mosta Dome: Also known as Rotunda Church was built in 1860 over another church that was built in 1614, the church of St. Mary is the Parish church of Mosta. The awesome dome is the fourth largest in the world and famous due to the incident that took place during WWII – a bomb punctured the roof during a mass, rolled down an aisle but didn’t explode. The bomb replica is placed in the museum built next to the church. The Mosta’s titular feast,that of St. Mary or the Assumption of Our Lady is a high point in the local religious celebrations.
St. Paul’s Cathedral in Mdina is located in the walled city of Mdina is a jewel in the city’s architectural treasure. Designed by architect Lorenzo Gafa in the seventeenth century the artistic dome is undoubtedly considered his best creation and an ultimate masterpiece.The Cathedral has an outstanding dome that inspired several painters who attempted to decorate its interior. There are works of art by the famous Mattia Preti, amongst which is the immense illustration of The Conversion of St. Paul in the choir behind the main altar. The marble pavimento includes tombstones that depict the emblems of the Mdina bishops as well as other members of the clergy
St Nicholas Church, Siġġiewi was already a parish in 1436 but hardly anything has survived of the original church. The present church took thirteen years to build and is dedicated to St. Nicholas of Bari. The parish church of St Nicholas is one of the most imposing Baroque churches in Malta. Completed in 1693 by Lorenzo Gafa, the façade and the magnificent eight-segment dome date from 1864 and are to the design of Dr. Nicola Zammit, a Siggiewi resident. The altarpiece, a painting of St Nicholas, is the last work of the celebrated artist Mattia Preti.
St. Mary Church,Mgarr: Mgarr has a truly large landmark of a parish church. It’s not old, having been constructed in the early 20th century, but it makes up for lack of history by being the next largest unsupported dome after Mosta’s church.
Its building commenced in 1912 and its construction depended on free labour and on the generous contributions earned by the parishioners from the sale of farm products. Despite all efforts to expedite the work, the building was not completed before 1946.The parish church of St. Mary (the Assumption) is a miniature copy of the Mosta Rotunda.
Sanctuary of Our Lady, Mellieha:
The Parish Church of Mellieha is dedicated to the Birth of Our Lady, and was built between 1881 and 1898. All the stone was cut from a nearby quarry and transported up to Mellieha by the local peasants, who worked laboriously to see their wish of having a new church come true. Once the church's building was completed, the Parish Priests Dun Frangisk Magri, Dun Carlo Cortis and Dun Indri Fenech endeavoured to embellish the interior. Between 1920 and 1940 the belfries and dome were erected, five bells dedicated to St. Frances, St. Joseph,St. Anthony, St. Paul and the Virgin Mary were brought from Milan.
Zabbar:The Parish Church of Zabbar is dedicated to Our Lady of Divine Grace and dates back many centuries. Zabbar became a parish in 1615 and the present church was designed by by Tommaso Dingli and finished in 1696. In 1738 Giovanni Bonavia designed a new façade for the church that was implemented and paintings by the Maltese artist Alessio Erardi was added in 1715.
Ta’ Pinu Basilica,Gozo The Basilica of Ta’ Pinu is perhaps the most loved from all Gozo churches. It is indeed the Maltese Islands’ most important centre of pilgrimage.The Origin of Ta Pinu goes back to June 22, 1883 when a peasant woman Carmela Grima heard the voice of the Blessed Virgin in a little old chapel. In the following years many miracles and acts of Grace were manifested. It was believed that the prayers said in the little chapel save Gozo from the plague which had stricken Malta at the time. It was therefore decided to build a larger and more magnificent Church on the site in honour of the Blessed Virgin.
The Cathedral, GozoThe Citadel’s fine Baroque Cathedral is a masterpiece designed by Lorenzo Gafa’, the Maltese Architect who was responsible for the magnificent Cathedral of Mdina. The site on which it stands may well have been that of the Roman Temple of Juno, mentioned by Cicero in his writings. Its floor is made up of a mosaic of marble tombstones and ecclesiastical emblems, while its ceiling has a remarkable trompe l'oeil painting, depicting the interior of a dome that was never built