St. John's Co-Cathedral, Valletta

St. John's Co-Cathedral, Valletta (must see)

Saint John's Co-Cathedral in Valletta symbolizes the Knights of Malta's rich heritage. Constructed between 1573 and 1578, following its commission in 1572 by Grand Master Jean de la Cassière, it served as the conventual church for the Order of the Knights Hospitaller of Saint John. The design of this architectural masterpiece was entrusted to the Maltese military architect Glormu Cassar, who is also credited with the design of several other notable buildings in Valletta.

Built in the aftermath of the Great Siege of 1565, the cathedral's exterior presents a stark, fortress-like appearance, reflecting the military prowess and resilience of the Knights. This austere external facade contrasts sharply with the cathedral's interior, which is a lavish celebration of the Baroque period's artistic exuberance.

The interior of Saint John's Co-Cathedral is renowned for its breathtaking ornamentation. The walls, intricately carved by the talented artist Preti, are adorned with scenes from the life of Saint John, seamlessly blending with the vaulted ceiling to create a harmonious and spiritually uplifting space. Preti's use of shadows and strategic placement imbues the painted figures on the ceiling with a lifelike three-dimensionality, initially giving the illusion of statuary. This effect is a testament to the artist's skillful manipulation of perspective and light.

Remarkably, the detailed carvings were executed directly onto the cathedral's walls, a testament to the artisans' dedication and the craftsmanship of the period. This method, foregoing the practice of attaching pre-carved pieces, ensured a unique integration of the artwork with the architectural elements, enhancing the cohesiveness and immersive quality of the interior space.

Saint John's Co-Cathedral thus serves not only as a place of worship but also as a cultural treasure, encapsulating the artistic, historical, and spiritual heritage of Malta and the knightly order that shaped much of its history.

Get there early! This is a very popular attraction and the groups and cruise ship passengers are already starting to descend by 10:30 or so.

Want to visit this sight? Check out these Self-Guided Walking Tours in Valletta. Alternatively, you can download the mobile app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from Apple App Store or Google Play Store. The app turns your mobile device to a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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St. John's Co-Cathedral on Map

Sight Name: St. John's Co-Cathedral
Sight Location: Valletta, Malta (See walking tours in Valletta)
Sight Type: Religious
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

Walking Tours in Valletta, Malta

Create Your Own Walk in Valletta

Create Your Own Walk in Valletta

Creating your own self-guided walk in Valletta is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Valletta Introduction Walking Tour

Valletta Introduction Walking Tour

Malta's capital city, Valletta, occupies the strategic peninsula between the Marsamxett and Grand Harbours. It is Europe's smallest capital city.

Valletta was founded in the 16th century. Many of the original buildings were built by the Knights Hospitaller. The city was named for Jean Parisot de Valette, famous for defending the island from the Ottomans during the Great Seige of Malta...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.8 Km or 1.7 Miles
Valletta Architectural Landmarks Tour

Valletta Architectural Landmarks Tour

Following the Great Siege of Malta in 1565, the knights of the Order of St John set about creating a city ‘built by gentlemen, for gentlemen’. The end result saw the island's capital become home to an array of elaborate Baroque buildings, some reflecting Mannerist features borrowed from neighboring Italy.

Many of these architectural monuments have proudly withstood the test of time...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.0 Km or 1.2 Miles