Famously having nearly one church for every day of the year, Malta definitely has its fair share of glorious places of worship. But as with most things, it’s the relatively unknown and smaller specimen that really shine.
Here are 13 gorgeous wayside chapels that you’ll want to run into in Malta.
1. Madonna ta’ l-Isperanza
This lovely chapel is found in the Speranza Valley in Mosta and was built in the 18th Century.
Legend has it that some young girls from the village were tending to their family’s sheep when Turkish invaders attacked the village. Some of the girls managed to escape, but one of them, who had a limp, had to hide in a cave close by.
She prayed to the Virgin Mary, promising that if she was saved she would build her a chapel on the spot.
The invaders never looked inside the cave. They thought it was impossible for her to enter it without disrupting the giant spider’s web blocking off the cave’s entrance.
The rest, as they say, is (actual) history.
2. San Mikiel Is-Sanċir
This chapel left in ruins was built way back in the 1400s.
You can read more about its colourful past – and unfortunate present – here.
3. San Klement
This lovely chapel in Żejtun was built as thanksgiving for a vow Klement Tabone had done for his life to be spared during a Turkish invasion.
Seems like a lot of these chapels were built as vows due to Turkish or pirate invasions happening on the island, so if there’s one thing we need to thank the Ottomans for, it’s the lovely chapels Maltese folks built to keep away from them.
4. Chapel of the Annunciation
The Ħal Millieri chapel was built in the mid 15th century and is thought to have been a mosque before that. This is due to some of its architectural features — it’s pointing towards Mecca and has an apse, which are both lineaments most common in mosques.
Skeletal remains are found in this chapel which date back to the medieval period, revealing evidence that syphilis was totally a thing on our islands at one point.
5. Sarria Church
This Floriana beaut is a tiny rotunda built by Grand Master Cotoner as a sign of thanksgiving. It was dedicated to the Immaculate Conception following the 1675 plague that shook our islands.
It was designed by Mattia Preti and was built under the direction of Lorenzo Gafá. The altarpiece and interior paintings are all done by Preti himself, making this lovely chapel a priceless treasure.
6. Santa Marija ta’ Bir Miftuħ
Santa Marija is a medieval chapel in the limits of Gudja, Bir Miftuħ to be exact. This lovely work of art was built way back in 1512 and had a belfry added to it a while later.
The church was desecrated in 1565 by the invading Turks, and in order to protect its treasures, the Knights (along with the locals) buried all of its treasures in the tombs of the church.
7. Our Saviour’s Chapel
The medieval chapel in Żejtun is dedicated to Is-Salvatur. It’s located in the Bisqallin area and was used by people living there, since St. Catherine’s was a bit too far away for them to walk to.
This chapel was actually two separate chapels built right next to each other. However, in the 20th Century they were revamped — both chapels were conjoined thus giving it a weird mixture.
To this day, the chapel has a medieval backside, an 18th Century front side and a 20th century Neo-gothic facade.
8. San Niklaw
San Niklaw is a 17th Century chapel in the Ħal Ginwi area, between Żejtun and Marsaxlokk.
This chapel was built sometime in the 16th Century and records vary in dates. It opens once a year to celebrate the feast of St.Nicholas on the 6th of December.
Tal-Providenza is found in Siġġiewi and is an intricately exquisite piece of architecture.
It was built in the 18th Century, and after being damaged by an earthquake and some vindictive thunder, it was fixed up to be less prone to natural disasters in the 1800s.
Tal-Lunzjata in the Salini area was built in the mid 15th Century over a previous late-Roman chapel. The frescoes and arches are all original elements of the chapel and it is thought that they are copied from the earlier Roman chapel.
11. San Gejtanu
This 1657 church is situated close to St. Thomas Bay in Marsaskala. This historical building has some lovely ship graffiti etched to its walls. A stone’s throw away from this cutie you can find the Mamo Tower.
12. Saint Andrew
Saint Andrew’s dates back to the 17th Century, and it’s one of the most simple churches in this list, with bare decorations and very little ornaments. It’s evident however that its beauty lies in its simplicity.
13. Madonna tal-Abbandunati
In the limits of Żebbuġ, one can find this strange chapel known as both tal-Abbandunati and Tal-Baruni. It was built in the 1700s by a very well known family of doctors from the village.
One can still find a painting of both the founder of this chapel and his brother hanging on the walls.