The Carmelite Church
The Carmelite Church in its present state may not be one of the oldest buildings in Valletta, but it’s certainly one of the most imposing. It is also one of the landmarks that has left a genuine impact on the city, with the huge dome now part of the capital’s iconic skyline.
Although you wouldn’t imagine it looking at the building today, the building of this church actually gave rise to one of the most hotly debated controversies in Valletta. It all started when the church was damaged during World War II – plans for the new structure were presented, and the rebuilding commenced. The process was to take the best part of three decades, between 1958 and 1981. The bone of contention? The size of the new dome, coming in at 42 metres high, and which was allegedly designed precisely to compete with the nearby Anglican Church spire. Of course, this is but a legend based on the religious rivalries of the day, and nowadays the two buildings coexist in harmony next to each other, creating the very distinctive skyline Valletta is known for.
Carmelite Church – the interiors
Because it was rebuilt in the modern day, the interiors of the Carmelite Church are considerably different from those of other churches you will visit in Valletta. This is not to say that it is any less remarkable. The highly-intricate stonework was sculpted by Joseph Damato over 19 years, and the red marble columns that adorn the entire layout make for an impressive sight. The church is also home to a majestic painting of Our Lady that dates back to the 17th century.
If you’re looking for the best vantage point from where to admire this magnificent dome, we suggest using the Sliema-Marsamxett Harbour ferry. The channel of water separating Sliema and Valletta offers the best views of the entire city skyline, and if you position yourself well you will be able to snap a spectacular shot featuring the distinctive wooden balconies overlooking the harbour, with the cupola and the spire in the background.