Malta Tourism Authority’s series of themed maps introduced a new addition this year; the Pilgrimage Trail, which showcases the most beautiful churches and religious spots across the archipelago. With more than 360 churches and chapels scattered across Malta and Gozo, the religious sites highlighted in the map form an integral part of the country’s history, landscape and skyline – they are at the heart of Maltese social and cultural life.
Malta is believed to be the first country to be converted to Christianity, when St Paul was shipwrecked on the Islands in AD 60. St. Paul’s grotto is still visited by thousands of tourists each year. Malta was ruled by the knights of St. John during the 16th and 18th centuries and today remains one of the most devout Catholic countries in the world.
The Pilgrimage Trail firmly plants the capital, Valletta, and the islands as one of Europe’s top pilgrimage hot spots and a must-visit religious destination for 2019.
- Basilica of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Valletta – the silhouette of the buildings 42-metre high oval dome dominates the skyline and is home to a painting of Our Lady of Mount Carmel dating back to the 17th century.
- St John’s Co Cathedral, Valletta – The jaw dropping interior, elaborately created by Mattia Preti is widely considered to be the best example of baroque style in Europe. The magnificent cathedral is also home to the only signed Caravaggio painting in the world.
- St Paul’s Cathedral, Mdina – Founded in the 17th century, the cathedral is widely believed to be a Lorenzo Gafa masterpiece. The cathedral stands tall in the middle of ‘the silent city’ and it’s façade impresses visitors as they emerge from Mdina’s narrow streets.
- Cathedral of Assumption, Gozo – Dedicated to the Assumption of Mary, the impressive structure is situated in Cittadella of Victoria in Gozo. The church is more than 300 years old, completed 1711, and boasts a beautiful baroque exterior.
- Our Lady on Ta’Pinu, Gozo – In 1883 a woman from the village of Għarb, Karmni Grima, heard the voice of Our Lady at the small chapel that then occupied this site. It rapidly became the center of pilgrimage and the number of visitors soon overwhelmed the little church. Today’s monumental shrine to Our Lady of Ta’ Pinu was built between 1920 and 1931 and was heralded as an architectural masterpiece. The sanctuary was constructed in front of the original chapel.
The sunny islands of Malta, in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, are home to a most remarkable concentration of intact built heritage, including the highest density of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in any nation-state anywhere. Valletta built by the proud Knights of St. John is one of the UNESCO sites and the European Capital of Culture for 2018. Malta's patrimony in stone ranges from the oldest free-standing stone architecture in the world, to one of the British Empire's most formidable defensive systems, and includes a rich mix of domestic, religious and military architecture from the ancient, medieval and early modern periods. With superbly sunny weather, attractive beaches, a thriving nightlife and 7,000 years of intriguing history, there is a great deal to see and do.
For more information, visit https://www.visitmalta.com/en/religious-sites