This is a very ornate cathedral deeply symbolic to the order of Knights of St John. Its located in the very centre of Valletta- and in more ways than just physical location. Wikepedia (see below) details how the Order of St John ruled the island from 1530 to 1798. The cathedral was commissioned in 1572
It is is relatively ordinary on the outside.
Inside is quite another story. Gold leaf and marble is everywhere. In fact, that description does not begin to convey how grand the decorations are.
The audio commentary was worth having, as a guide to the many sights. After hearing about the large number of Grand Masters of the order and their magnificence and high level of commitment to the order it did however start to become confusing by the end.
The floor of the Cathedral was covered by marble tomb stones each telling the story of valour and commitment of the knight who was laid beneath it. This gave a clear impression of how society was at that time. I was struck by the number of skulls that appeared on these tombstones and unsure what was the significance of these.
One wonders what sacrifices the ordinary local inhabitant would have had to make to support such an all powerful and directive social Order.
The Caravaggio museum was being redeveloped during our visit. We therefore only had a brief look at the famous picture “The Beheading of St John”. This does show, all too graphically, past events in the name of religion. Hopefully the following link takes you to this painting.
The local information nearby is gruesomely informative. It states that apparently the painting was done after the Saint had been killed but before the full process of beheading had been completed. It was an uncomfortable juxtaposition between the ornate and triumphalist decorations of the cathedral main nave and this thought provoking painting. One hopes that mankind has moved on in the interim.
There was another rather more mundane aspect just outside the cathedral. I could not decide whether the statue was covered in plastic sheet to protect it from the rain or to show that rain falls on all people alike. Similarly the statue with the character (who’s name I did not get) who is about to fall from a horse, is a reminder that gravity is no respecter of rank or status.
The final statue near the cathedral is much more humorous but again shows how we are all the same. It is located next to the food market (see link below) and demonstrates what happens if you enjoy the delights of the food market too much. So much so that a nearby chemist had a sign on his shutters offering a helpful service- and one can see those in action.
To see a statue of Queen Victoria on the square outside the library there does emphasis the close links between UK and Malta in the past.
This seems to continue to the present day as shown by having Marks and Spencer located behind the orange trees on the same square
I hope I have given you a few things to consider while you enjoy your retirement. Even in February it was worth visiting Malta and Valletta. Our visit was memorable and fun.
- Wikepedia St Johns Cathedral https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_John%27s_Co-Cathedral
- Visit Malta https://www.visitmalta.com/en/valletta
- Caravaggio Valletta Malta https://www.visitmalta.com/en/caravaggio
- Is-Sug Tal-Belt Food Market Valletta https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Attraction_Review-g190328-d13477965-Reviews-Is_Suq_Tal_Belt_Valletta_Food_Market-Valletta_Island_of_Malta.html