Photographer's Note

Co-Cathedral of St John, Valletta

St John’s Cathedral is the highlight of the Maltese Islands. However short your stay on the Islands, this cathedral of the Knights of St John is a must to visit. Described as the first complete example of the high baroque anywhere, it epitomises the role – spiritual and military - of its patrons.

The austere façade is reminiscent of the fortifications of Valletta, the fortress city in which it stands; while the exuberant and lavish baroque interior shows the Knights’ deep appreciation and patronage of culture and the arts.

The Cathedral is testimony to the talent of Maltese military architect, Gerolamo Cassar, and to Mattia Preti, the Calabrian artist and Knight. Preti designed the intricate carved stone walls and painted the vaulted ceiling and side altars with scenes from the life of St John. The Cathedral houses also one of Europe’s most impressive and famous art works, Caravaggio’s Beheading of St John the Baptist.

The Cathedral is a shrine to the Knights in another sense. Many sons of Europe’s noble families from the 16th to 18th centuries lie buried here. Their intricate, marble-inlaid tombstones form a magnificently crafted pavimento.
The inscriptions relate the story of the lives and valiant deeds of the Order.

Sir Walter Scott, in Malta in 1831, called the Cathedral the most magnificent place he had ever seen. It is certainly a spectacular building and a fitting resting place for the founder of Valletta, Grand Master Jean Parisot de la Vallette. His tomb lies in the crypt, a quiet sanctuary and place of contemplation away from the busy streets outside.

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Additional Photos by Yiannis Logiotatidis (logios) Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 179 W: 28 N: 398] (1903)
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