Visit the St John’s Co Cathedral Malta
and dive deeper
A Maltese Gem of Baroque Art - Explore St John’s Co Catheral Malta.
A stay in Malta‘s capital is not complete without visiting St John’s Co-Cathedral Malta. The project was commissioned in 1572 by Grand Master Jean de la Cassiere to serve as the church for the Order of the Knights of St John, and designed by the Maltese architect Gerolamo Cassar. The work was completed by 1577 and dedicated to St John the Baptist, one of the two patron saints of the Order.
The Cathedral is considered to be one of the most important landmarks for those seeking arts and culture in Valletta. In fact, it can be described as the gem of the city, a fascination that draws visitors to Valletta time and time again. With so many churches on the island, you might be wondering why St John’s Co Cathedral Malta stands out from the rest. Apart from its rich Baroque art and relics, the Co Cathedral also holds impressive Baroque frescos, ornate marble floors, three-dimensional statues, carved stone walls and breath-taking vaulted ceilings decorated by the well-known Italian Baroque artist, Mattia Preti.
The Co-Cathedral is also home to one of the most internationally recognised works by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, known as ‘The Beheading of St John the Baptist’ (1608). The painting, located within the Oratory, is the largest work of art by Caravaggio and the only one to bear his signature. Every day of the year, visitors make their way to the cathedral to get a glimpse of the famous artwork, and many will return to the cathedral each time they’re on the island.
The Cathedral itself consists of nine eloquently decorated chapels on either side; eight were constructed for each of the langues of the Knights of St John, and the ninth is dedicated to their patron saint, Our Lady of Philermos, the other patron saint of the Order. The last chapel is also home to an ancient icon of the lady of Philermos, which the Knights considered to be a sacred object. St John’s Co-Cathedral Malta also holds a mysterious crypt containing the tombs of past Grand Masters of the Knights of St John.
When speaking to our guests, they say that their favourite thing to do is simply sit on one of the benches and admire the wondrous art that decorates the church. There’s no better way to take in the rich culture and beauty of the Cathedral than this. Simple and unforgettable. Plus, St John’s Co Cathedral Malta is located just around a 500m walk away from our hotels in Valletta: as you exit your hotel, walk up Merchants’ Street for two minutes, then take a right turn onto St John’s Street. If possible, you should also try to attend a church service within the Cathedral, which is sure to be a spiritual experience like no other.
- Getting there early will avoid the crowds.
- You’ll need two hours minimum to see all that there is to see inside the Cathedral.
- Audio guides are available in multiple languages, including Maltese, English, Italian, French, German, Spanish, Japanese and Russian.