There are over 350 churches in Malta. For a country that only covers 316 km2, that’s… a lot. Churches dominate the make-up of our townscapes, skylines, and general visual make-up. Every town and village on the islands has at least one, some have more than one. Some have even feeding churches that have sparked age-old rivalries between devoted residents.
Here’s a selection of some of the most beautiful churches on the islands.
1. Basilica of Our Lady of Mount Carmel – Valletta
This church is synonymous with the Valletta skyline – the silhouette of its 42-metre high oval dome is etched into our brains and pops up if anyone ever mentions the city. It’s a total show stopper.
2. Parish Church of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary – Mellieħa
The way this 19th century church towers over an open piazza, and indeed over the village of Mellieħa itself as it perches high on that picturesque hill, is quite breathtaking.
3. Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel – Balluta
This impressive sea-side church is an unconventional neo-gothic gem in a sea of overwhelmingly baroque church architecture. It blends perfectly with its surroundings, but it’s still some serious drama to it.
4. Our Lady Of Mount Carmel – Fgura
Church buildings in Malta have at times proven to be the most avant-garde architecture on the islands. This church in Fgura is a mini, reinforced concrete gem. Anyone who’s a sucker for modern architecture in Malta will love this church.
5. Parish Church of the Assumption (Mosta Rotunda) – Mosta
The design of this church is said to be based on none other than the Pantheon in Rome, and it is popularly known to be the third largest unsupported dome in the world. It’s also pretty much our pride and joy in terms of showing-off material. With good reason.
6. St John’s Co Cathedral – Valletta
Forget the fact that it’s home to Caravaggio’s largest painted work, a tonne of Mattia Preti’s work, and enough ornamentation to make your head explode – it’s also a really interesting juxtaposition of a mostly austere exterior vs. a symphony of opulence internally. Winner.
7. Basilica of the National Shrine of the Blessed Virgin of Ta’ Pinu – Gozo
This beloved neo-romantic sanctuary is not just a place of deep devotion related to the belief of miracles associated with its shrine, it’s also a beautiful building set against a cliffside vista in open countryside. We dare you to visit and not be moved.
8. Collegiate Parish Church of St Paul’s Shipwreck – Valletta
This is one of the oldest churches in Valletta – completed in 1582. It’s home to a bunch of amazing artworks, including the widely known wooden titular statue of St Paul carved by Mechiorre Gafa. It’s also gorgeous during festa time.
9. Metropolitan Cathedral of Saint Paul – Mdina
A stoic giant in the silentest of cities – the Mdina cathedral is widely believed to be Lorenzo Gafa’s masterpiece. It’s got an awesome baroque exterior, and the pair of canons at its entrance have been fodder for children’s (and some adults) play in Malta for ages.