Posted by Vi Warkentin on
St John’s Co-Cathedral, located in Valletta and built between 1573 and 1578, is a perfect example of baroque art and architecture. Nothing particularly striking about the facade but definitely a feast for the eyes on the inside. But don’t even think about wearing your stilettos if you’re planning to visit. The smaller the diameter of your high heels, the more likely you could shatter the inlaid marble floors. There’s even a diagram at the entrance with a certain sized circle where you can measure your heel against to see if it makes the grade to be granted entry! If not, you can always buy cheap slippers (or so I’ve heard). Not being one to wear my stilettos much while trekking has its advantages!
The interior is incredibly ornate - definitely baroque. With the interior mostly decorated by Mattia Preti, a Calabrian artist and Knight, one only has to look to the painted ceilings and carved limestone walls to see the magnificence of this artist. It must be noted that all the carving was done in-place (not done somewhere else and brought in and attached to the walls!)
This is one of the many intricately carved ceilings in one of the eight side chapels of the Cathedral.
Another feature inside is the collection of 400 inlaid marble tombstones located in the central area of the Co-Cathedral where several generations of European nobility, members of the Order of St John, lie buried. Each tombstone comes complete with the coat of arms of the particular knight buried there. Each tombstone tells a story - often a story of a victory in battle.
St John’s Co-Cathedral also has a large museum and alongside famous paintings by Caravaggio, another highlight is definitely the 29 fine Flemish tapestries presented to the church in 1701. The tapestries were a gift from Grand Master Ramon Perellos at the beginning of the 18th century as part of a traditional custom where the newly appointed Grandmaster gave a gift to the church. These tapestries used to be hung in the main area in St Johns each year on June 24th during the Feast of St John the Baptist but are now only used for special occasions, the last time being 1990.
The 14 largest tapestries measure six by six and a half meters( that’s right, meters!) They are truly impressive in size and quality. This priceless collection is the largest of its size in the world.