The Maltese are among the oldest Christian peoples in the world. St. Paul, shipwrecked as a captive en route to Rome in A.D. 60, brought the Christian faith to Malta. His steps can be retraced in the shrines, grottos and catacombs of Rabat and in the ancient capital, Mdina.
There are over 360 churches and chapels scattered throughout the islands. You can usually locate the centre of any town or village by driving towards the parish church which dominates the skyline, although many may have more than one large church and several chapels. You can’t help but notice the islands’ Baroque churches with their red or silver painted domes. They form an integral part of the landscape and are at the heart of Maltese social and cultural life.
Many of these buildings are veritable works of art. You will notice how local craftsmen and artisans adorned the inside and exteriors of churches and cathedrals with intricate decorations and stone sculptures depicting saints, angels and sacred symbols.
Perhaps most intriguing of all religious sites are the small, wayside chapels. Some are excavated in the rock; others cling to cliffs. All are places of quiet contemplation.
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36, Triq Idmejda, Ħal Balzan, Malta
Balzan became a parish on the 14th August 1655 and the old church of the Annunciation became the parish church. In December 1669 work started on the building of a new church and four years later, part of the building was already in use.
Bir Miftuħ, limits of Gudja, Malta
This chapel was built in around 1430 and is one of the best preserved examples of a fifteenth-century parish church in Malta. It has some interesting frescoes and provides the ideal setting for the annual Bir Miftuħ music festival organised each spring by Din l-Art Ħelwa.
Main Street, Ħaż-Żebbuġ, Malta
This chapel is a simple architectural structure roofed with stone slabs on three arches which divide it into four bays. It measures eight metres long and seven metres wide and has no side openings.
Ħal Millieri, Żurrieq, Malta
This chapel is situated in the old village of Casal Millieri, which lies between Żurrieq, Qrendi, Mqabba and Kirkop. This village was first documented in 1419 and its origins date back to Roman and possibly pre-historic times.
St Dominic Street Valletta, VLT 1603, Malta
The Dominican church in Valletta is the parish church dedicated to Our Lady of Fair Heavens. The church was built by by Girolamo Cassar and was declared “the principal parish and matrix of the whole of the new city” by Pope Pius V.