4.5 star rating: Recommended 13 Reviews

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  • Address: St John's Co-Cathedral, St John Street, Valletta, Malta VLT 1156
  • Hours: Open daily from 9:30am to 4:30pm (only until 12:30pm on Saturdays); closed on Sundays except for services
  • Admission: €6.00 (USD$8) for adults, €4.60 (USD$6) for seniors, €3.50 (USD$4.50 for students)

Valletta ATTRACTIONS See all

St John's Co-Cathedral

Behind the misleadingly plain Baroque façade of St John's Co-Cathedral hides one of Europe's most spectacular churches, built in thanks by the Knights of St John following their successful routing of the Ottoman Turks in 1565’s Great Siege of Malta. Completed in 1577, most of the design is by Gerolamo Cassar, the Maltese architect who also built the Grand Master's Palace. The entire floor in the nave of Valletta's premier cathedral is composed of around 400 marble tombstones dedicated to prominent Knights of St John. These multicolored and highly decorative memorials pay tribute to the bravery of the order, featuring coats of arms, angels and skulls.

The heavily ornamental cathedral ceiling is covered in scenes from the life of John the Baptist, patron saint of the knights, as well as other Biblical scenes executed chiefly by Calabrian artist Mattia Preti under the patronage of the order’s early 17th-century grandmaster Raphael Cotoner. Preti took six years over his decorative frescoes, finishing them in 1667; he is buried in the cathedral. 

The cathedral also houses two peerless works by the rabble-rouser artist Caravaggio: The Beheading of St John the Baptist is found in the Oratory and is a brutal masterpiece marking a landmark in the development of European art. Caravaggio's second work for the cathedral, St Jerome Writing, hangs in the Chapel of Italy.

In the cathedral's museum are vestments worn by the Knights of St John, fine Gobelin tapestries hang in the nave, and a monumental statue of Christ by Bolognese sculptor Alessandro Algardi is found close to the entrance. The building was badly damaged in World War II but has now been perfectly restored.

Practical Info

St John's Co-Cathedral is a 5-minute walk from Valletta bus station and is a 15-minute walk from the cruise liner terminal. It is in a pedestrianized area of the city and there is designated parking outside the City Gate for drivers. The cathedral is open Monday through Saturday and is closed on Sundays except for services. There are multilingual audio guides available.

Dress respectfully to enter the cathedral; shorts and strapless shirts are not allowed. Shawls and wraps are provided at the entrance. No high-heeled shoes are allowed on the marble tombstones. Lines can be long as staggered entrance helps prevent damage to the cathedrals' interior.

Tours & Tickets

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5 star rating: Highly Recommended 1 Reviews

Malta is a small island with a lot to see, and unfortunately one does not always have too much time to spend exploring its many treasures. This is where the ...  Read more

Location: Valletta, Malta
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Valletta Walking Tour Including Grandmaster’s Palace, Valletta, Private Day Trips

Valletta Walking Tour Including Grandmaster’s Palace

4.5 star rating: Recommended 12 Reviews

Discover Malta’s capital city on this immersive walking tour that takes you to Valletta’s main sights. See where the Maltese government is housed ...  Read more

Location: Valletta, Malta
Duration: 3 hours 30 minutes (approx.)

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The Tour of Valletta Malta's Capital City, Valletta, Half-day Tours

The Tour of Valletta Malta's Capital City

During this tour you walk along the streets of Valletta. Included in the price you also have the St. John's Co-Cathedral ticket and the Malta Experience ...  Read more

Location: Valletta, Malta
Duration: 5 hours (approx.)

From USD $42.44

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