The must-visit most magnificent church ever seen

St. John's Co-Cathedral, Valletta, Malta

The gem of Baroque art and architecture

St. John's Co-Cathedral is located in the City of Valletta. If you are the one who loves to visit the religious buildings and so into the art and painting, you probably cannot miss this one. It is a Roman Catholic co-cathedral, built by the Order of St. John between 1572 and 1577 as a conventual church for the Knights of St. John. Girolamo Cassar, the Maltese architect who designed several outstanding buildings in Valletta, also designed this co-cathedral. After that in the 17th century, the interior was redecorated by Mattia Preti and other artists in Baroque style, making this co-cathedral to be one of the excellent examples of high Baroque architecture in Europe.


Free audio guide at St. John's Co-Cathedral

The entrance of the co-cathedral is at the back of the building. The audio guide is free with every information you would need to know about this co-cathedral. At the moment you step inside, you will be stunned by mostly golden decorations and the great artworks. Every piece of art whether it is the painting, artefact, tapestry, or even the floor, everything is stunning and breathtaking. You can start walking following the number on the red sign indicating the channel on the audio guide.


Where to visit in Malta? St. John's Co-Cathedral


At the very first glance, you will see the painting covering the enormous ceiling and the vault. It was painted between 1661 and 1666 by Mattia Preti. The painting depicts the important chapters of St. John the Baptist's life such as the birth of St. John the Baptist, St. John preaching in the desert, St. John being interrogated by priests, St. John warning King Herod of his immorality, Salome with St. John's head, The beheading of St. John the Baptist, and many more. These beautiful painting will absolutely take your breath away.


The most beautiful church in Malta


Not only the ceilings that have been beautifully decorated but also the floor. The entire floor of the co-cathedral is covered with more than 400 tombstones. All the tombstones are the original designs and composed of different coloured inlaid marbles dated back from the early 17th century to the 19th century. These tombstones commemorate some of the most famous Knights of the Order of St. John full of the symbols of triumph, fame, victory, and death. The most popular tombstones are the image of death represented as a skeleton often with a sickle and hourglass and the angel of fame blowing a trumpet.


Stunning church in Valletta


This history of the co-cathedral is tied to the history of the Knights of St. John in Malta. The Order was organised into eight langues representing different regions of Europe which are Germany, Italy, France, Provence, Anglo-Bavarian, Auvergne, Aragon, and lastly Castille, Leon, and Portugal. 


Valletta history, Malta, St. John's Co-Cathedral


Fra' Marc'Antonio Zondadari is the Grand Master of the Order of Malta from 1720 until 1722. Although it was only two years of his reign, he became popular among Maltese people. He once used to live in Palazzo Carniero in Valletta from 1702 and nowadays, the place is known as Auberge de Bavière. After his death in 1722, his body was buried in a monument at St. John's Co-Cathedral. The monument represents the Baroque work of art in bronze and marble. 


The must visit place in Malta that you should not miss


The room connected to the main hall of co-cathedral was called The Sacristy, complete in 1604. The room displayed the coat-of-arms of Knight Raymundo de Vere in the centre below the niche with the statue of St. John above the altar. The other two coat-of-arms on both sides are the ones of The Religion and Grand Master Alof de Wignacourt.


The most beautiful cathedral even seen, Malta

O'bon Paris' tip

Note that the cathedral will be closed at 16:30 on weekdays and 12:30 on Saturday, the last admission to the cathedral is 30 minutes before the closure time. Make sure you do not miss to visit St. John's Co-Cathedral since many tourists missed the chance thinking that they will come back later since it is in Valletta, not knowing that the cathedral close very early in the evening. Therefore, plan a proper visit and spend time absorbing the story and history behind every painting. We can guarantee that the visit is worth more than the cost of the ticket.

In the coming 2021, the cathedral is looking forward to opening the museum full of its precious collections such as Tapestry Chamber, Caravaggio Wing, Vestments Hall, Silver Vaults, Cappella Ardente, and Choral Books. If you are to visit Malta in 2021, do not forget to pay a visit to this newly open museum.


Words and Photographs by Aphinya Kasemsukphaisan


Address: Triq San Gwann, Il-Belt Valletta, Malta

Transportation: Bus line 133 Gang or Nawfragju Station

Opening Hours: Monday to Friday 09:30-16:30 / Saturday 09:30-12:30 (Closed every Sunday and public holidays)

Admission Fee: Adult 10€ / ISIC Student Card Holder 7.50€ / Free for children under 12 years old

Website: Click here