Discover Religious Malta
The most beautiful places of worship in Malta & Gozo
Religion has dominated the Maltese history ever since the first people landed in Malta, and you can see the importance of religion all over the Maltese landscape till this very day. If you’re interested in how the Maltese people preserved their religious beliefs, you might want to embark on a religious itinerary to enrich your knowledge about the Islands.
Ever since the Stone Age farmers settled in Malta, they started looking at ways of how to worship their gods. As early as 3000 BC, local farmers worshipped fertility figure, such as the Venus of Willendorf. They started building megalithic temples, where they could pray and sacrifice animals in her honour. Such temples, which are among the oldest structures in the world, can be found in Tarxien Temples, Hagar Qim and Mnajdra in Malta, and in Ġgantija in Gozo. You can also see a large statue of the mother goddess of fertility at the National Museum of Archaeology in Valletta. You might wish to visit the Hypogeum in Hal Saflieni, which is an interesting example of architecture showing how people were buried around 3600BC.
Religious buildings of modern history
In 60 AD St. Paul was shipwrecked on Malta, changing the religious fate of the Maltese people as he converted a lot of the population to Christianity. The earliest signs of an early Christian community can be seen in St. Paul’s Grotto and the Catacombs in Rabat.
It is said that there are around 365 churches and chapels around Malta and Gozo, one for every day of the year. This is not hard to believe, when one considers the great devotion that the Maltese have. Apart from being religious centres, these churches are architectural and artistic jewels.
Churches in Valletta
There are beautiful churches in all towns and villages but perhaps you won’t have time to see them all, so here we just highlight the greatest churches that should not be missed. You can start your religious trip from Valletta in order to see St. John’s Cathedral, one of Malta’s most important churches, built by the Knights on a baroque style. There is also the Church of Our Lady of Victory, which was the first building to be built in Valletta, the Collegiate Parish Church of St. Paul’s Shipwreck, which is also one of the oldest churches in Malta and Anglican Cathedral of St. Paul if you want to take a different perspective on how different people pray and worship their gods.
Churches in central Malta
Moving to Mdina then, you can visit the beautiful cathedral dedicated to St. Paul and the Carmelite Church and Priory which shows baroque art and architecture at its best. Perhaps one of the most interesting and spectacular churches in Malta is the Mosta Rotunda, which has the third largest dome in the World and a pretty interesting story from the Second World War attached to it.
Churches in the Three Cities
After visiting Mosta, you can head on to the Three Cities to visit St. Lawrence church in Birgu, a church that displays fine baroque architecture and beautiful paintings from centuries ago. The Church of our Lady of Victories in Senglea also deserves a visit, as it commemorates the victory over the Ottoman Empire in the Great Siege of 1565. In Cospicua you can visit the The Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception which was the only building in its area that survived the bombings of World War II.
Churches in Gozo
In Gozo there are also plenty of very interesting churches and religious shrines. Perhaps the most famous is Ta’ Pinu Basilica which is highly respected by the Maltese and is often visited for pilgrimage, with many believing that this place has a miraculous feel to it. Heading on to Victoria, the capital city, you can’t miss The Cathedral in the Cittadella and St. George’s Basilica which is one of the most beautifully decorated churches in the Maltese Islands. Another beautiful church in Gozo is the Xewkija rotunda, which although smaller than Mosta’s dome, it’s still very spectacular.
Apart from churches, you can see religion present in the Maltese landscape in several niches and statues scattered around the Maltese towns and villages..
Religious events in Malta
If you’re interested to witness religious devotion can be seen also by the great number of religious events held throughout the year. Various religious processions are held on various occasions throughout the year, such as for example, Our Lady of Sorrows, Palm Sunday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday. If you’re visiting Malta during summer, make sure to attend one of the festas happening in every town and village all over the islands.