Valletta – St John’s Co-Cathedral, St Paul Shipwreck Church & Valletta’s first church

What lies between the Holy Lands and Rome, answer, Malta. The Knights only had one job, to protect the Catholic religion at any cost. The Normans conquered the island in 1091 and completely re-Christianised them by 1249. The Knights then ruled Malta from 1530. The cost of such wars was always human. Valletta, Malta is a gateway to another world, to the Middle East to the Holy Lands. It has been the Pilgrimage route of bloodshed and slaughter throughout modern history. 

Now, from Malta, a ship can sail the Suez Canal or venture the longer way across the globe. Your itinerary may be Ancient Arabia, India & the Med or Island hopping the Adriatic or taking in Greece and Turkey, with ports as exciting as Piraeus (for Athens), Mykonos, Crete or Rhodes in Greece, Kusadasi, Limassol, Antalya in Turkey. Or you could be heading for the Croatian coast, to Zadar or Dubrovnik. The knights of St John were heading for Jerusalem. Where is your ship going?MALTA THE HOLLYWOOD OF THE MEDITERRANEAN where CAPTAIN PHILIPS was filmed – click here for film locationsAurora Ship Tour  Azura Ship Tour  Britannia Ship Tour  Arcadia Ship Tour   

Your Guide to Malta with maps and tourist brochures HERE 

We feature two churches and look at two others, but they have to be seen to have a full understanding of the wealth invested in them.

St John’s Co-Cathedral – Valletta (or Il-Belt) is a small walled city established in the 1500s on a peninsula by the Knights of St. John, a Roman Catholic order. Possibly its main Baroque landmark is St. John’s Co-Cathedral. The Cathedral normally opens at 10 am to public guests and photography but no flash is allowed. There is a headset commentary that will take you around the historic features – there are over 17 areas to cover. Jean went in with her camera and film the interior of this amazing church. See our film on the Knights Hospital and our guide of Malta. The main attraction in the church is the Caravaggio by Michelangelo Merisi (1573-1610), ‘the beheading of St. John the Baptist’. It shows the brutality and cheapness of life when fighting for a belief or power and wealth, little has changed to this day.

The Basilica of St Dominic, also known as the Basilica of Our Lady of Safe Haven began when the first stone was laid on 19 April 1571. A Grand Master who had the land gave it to the church. Pope Pius V decreed it a parish later the same year. However it had to be rebuilt in 1815 after an earthquake.

Zadar Guide  Walking the Walls of Dubrovnik   Dubrovnik Old Town

St Pauls Shipwreck Church (The Collegiate Parish Church of St Paul’s Shipwreck) – Paul was on his way to Rome to be tried as a political rebel when his ship was wrecked by a storm and he and the 274 swam into a bay on Malta’s shore. The island then known as Melita, the land of honey, is called Malta. This moment, which according to the Bible occurred in 60 AD, was later commemorated as St. Paul’s Shipwreck — the unexpected disaster turned Malta into one of the first Roman colonies to completely convert to Catholicism, despite the fact that Paul only stayed about three months. His wrist bone returned many hundreds of years later. 

Our Lady Of Victories – Valletta’s first church is likely to be the first church you come across. It was the first building built, in 1566, following the Great Siege of Malta and the slaughter of over 1,500 Ottoman Turks. Building a church first, shows the purpose of the bloodshed and to commemorate the victory’s fanatical belief. Grand Master Jean Parisot de Valette and his Order built the church in the name of the Nativity of the Virgin as a form of thanksgiving for their victory.  

Our Valletta Guide runs you around the main items in Valletta’s history:- the Grandmaster’s Palace, the House of Parliament and the Castille Palace the Fort and more. As well as the Knights, both Napoleon and Nelson were amongst the many to stake temporary claims here.

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