Attractions
The iconic Maltese architecture that will take your breath away!
The Maltese Islands are synonymous with architectural prowess, with the region’s magnificent buildings set to leave you completely lost in historic euphoria.

GuideMeMalta

The story of Malta is deeply rooted in its architectural fashion, which features some of the world’s most extraordinary prehistoric buildings. The island’s architecture, from temple-like structures to baroque-style churches, depicts Malta’s exciting past; a classical example of ‘stones keeping history alive!’

One glance at Malta and you cannot help taking note of the abundant defensive structures: an indication of the numerous accounts of fights over ownership of the islands. Each era brought with it something unique to add to Maltese architecture.

A Brief History of Maltese Architecture

The Maltese temples, erected 1000 years before the famous Egyptian pyramids, are some of the world’s most ancient structures, reflecting an era of iconic architectural and artistic development in the Maltese Islands. The Roman period, which followed the Punic era, introduced impressively decorative marble colonnades, mosaic floors, as well as classical statues.

The Byzantine and early Christian eras then came in, constructing hypogea and catacombs - vast complexity of underground cemeteries. Maltese Medieval architecture followed afterward, although there is not much of it that remained following the 1693 Messina earthquake.

The baroque era revolutionized almost everything about Maltese architecture and building art when the St. John’s Knights settled in Malta back in the 1530s. This saw an introduction of European-styled buildings on a large scale. This was the foundation of the cities in Malta, with buildings combining limestone-style architecture with English Classism. This led to the rise of hospitals, schools, new towns, and churches, including the infamous St. Paul’s Cathedral.

dom

Present Day Malta

Today, Maltese architecture features some level of mixed success given inconsistency in streetscapes and building standards. The preference, which was previously inclined to Malta’s limestone building style (giving structures their honey-like colour) is paving way for new types of buildings, all different in height, design, and colour. Ancient buildings in the islands are being converted and fortified for various purposes towards positive modernization developments.

Must-see spots

Intrigued by Malta’s architectural history? We’re sure you are! Here are some of the most iconic architectural masterpieces in Malta, which will take you on a historical journey of art appreciation.

Dragonara Casino

Malta is without a doubt a history mecca, alluring to travelling enthusiasts. This gem boasts great weather all year long, even during winter! However, the fun here is not restricted to history and the great climate. In the last couple of years, Malta has emerged as an unmatched leader in the European gambling community, becoming a hub that suits the thriving industry here. Matter of fact, Malta has grown in reputation, becoming one of the most popular iGaming. Hosting numerous gambling licenses, Malta offers an extensive list of online casinos for local punters to enjoy.

Located at the very tip of St, Julian’s Tad Dragun’ peninsula, is Dragonara Palace. This right here is one of the Maltese Islands’ most imposing and unique classical-style private properties. The construction is so immaculately done, exuding perfection that transports you to a world of romantic haze. This structure was erected in 1870, as Marquis Scicluna’s summer residence. The palace was then opened up in 1964, as the island’s first casino.

Dragonara Casino is quite significant to the Maltese economy, having been among the first grand projects that put Malta on the global map as a major tourist go-to destination. The casino gambling experience here is out of this world, with the venue featuring colonnaded verandas adjoining the sea directly! If you want to try out casino gambling here, be sure to get all the information you need before planning your next trip to Malta.

St. John’s Co-Cathedral

If anyone were to choose one masterpiece to act as the epitome of peak success in Malta’s architectural scene, it has to be St. John’s Co-Cathedral. This structure is considered the world’s best example of high-standard baroque style architecture. Glormu Cassar, a brilliant military architect from Malta, was responsible for the Cathedral’s design.

While the structure features a somewhat austere façade on the outside, the story dramatically changes as you venture inside the building. An attempt to describe the breathtaking magnificence here will leave you out of superlatives. Constructed by the Knights of St. John as their holy place of worship, it is clear to see that everything was intricately designed with keen attention to detail.

The walls are astoundingly curved, with several monuments (of the grandmasters) filling up nearly all spaces available. This cathedral is home to two very precious paintings by the legendary Caravaggio, one of them being the ‘beheading of St. John’ (the grandest and his only signed canvas), which was custom made for the oratory of the church. Another stunning piece is Melchiorre Gafa’s sculpture ‘Baptism of Christ’, which was completed by Giuseppe Mazzuoli, the artist’s only student, following Gafa’s sudden demise.

No visit to the islands is complete without a stop at this magnificent church – the apex of the Knights’ contribution to their island home, indeed the crown jewel of their artistic legacy. The Cathedral’s museum is home to L-Isle 16th century Graduals, a collection of the Flemish tapestries from the 17th century, featuring Rubens drawings as well as lighted choral books. The newest feature in the museum is the impressive exhibition on the works and life of Caravaggio.

Knisja tal-Madonna ta’ Pompei

The name here translates to the Church of Our Lady of Pompei. This is a Dominican Roman Catholic Church in Gozo’s Victoria. This structure was erected to cater to the Dominican Sisters, and the sisters’ monastery (built in 1889) is right next to the church. 25th July 1990 saw the church get opened to the public, with consecration following shortly afterward in 1993 by Malta’s then-Auxiliary Bishop, Angelo Portelli.

The church features a stunning painting of ‘Our Lady of Pompei’ done by Lazzaro Pisani. The Virgin of Pompei was crowned by Bishop Giuseppe Pace in October 1966. For the longest time, the statue of Our Lady of Pompei stood at the church’s top-down, until 2009 when strong winds destroyed it. Today, a cross stands to replace the statue, with the church being listed on the Cultural Property of the Islands of Malta’s National Inventory, more details of which can be found here .

The Mdina Metropolitan Cathedral Museum

As you get to Mdina city centre’s main square, you cannot miss the Metropolitan Cathedral, which is right at the square’s core. This baroque-style building, designed by the legendary Lorenzo Cafa, commands quite an irresistible gravitas, leaving everyone who lays eyes on it awe-struck by its sheer grandeur.

dom

The cathedral is bordered by two palaces (Episcopal residence and the old seminary) featuring the exact same architectural design and it is one of the most dominant buildings in the ancient Mdina. This cathedral is considered as Malta’s mother of churches metaphorically. This is also where the Archbishop of Malta seats when hosting religious functions. As the head of the Maltese Diocese, this cathedral is where the Archbishop coordinates and runs diocese affairs from. The name ‘Metropolitan’ results from the title given to the Archbishop: ‘The Metropolitan Archbishop & Head of the Ecclesiastical Province of Gozo and Malta’.

Il-Berga ta' Kastilja

Yet another perfect exemplification of the baroque style architectural prowess is Il-Berga ta' Kastilja – Auberge de Castille. This highly stunning and superimposing structure is found in Valletta, Malta’s capital city. The building was constructed in the early 1570s as a place to host the Knights of St. John. Considered as Malta’s finest piece of architecture, this elegant building is presently used as Malta’s Prime Minister’s office. While the structure is closed for public entry, you are allowed to take pictures from the building’s steps.

9th March 2021



You may also like...
New & now
New & now
The Submarine cave is one of the deepest on the island!

Kim Vella
Attractions
Attractions
Some places are fascinating. And even more fascinating are the stories attributed to them.

Melanie Drury
New & now
New & now
Did you know about this cave?

Kim Vella
Attractions
Attractions
What would Malta look like if you had wings and could go wherever the breeze led you?

Melanie Drury