The small island nation of Malta has changed hands several times over the centuries due to its militarily strategic importance, with several kingdoms and empires leaving their mark. Much of the island's most notable architecture was built during the 16th-18th centuries under the rule of the Knights of St. John, a Catholic military order who left their mark on the Island's religious heritage. Today, Malta hosts several magnificent and well preserved religious heritage sites that make any visit well worth the trip.
The Sanctuary Basilica of the Assumption of Our Lady, commonly known as the Rotunda of Mosta, is a Neoclassical Roman Catholic parish church that was built in the 1860s in place of its Renaissance predecessor from the 17th century. The church is modelled after the Pantheon of Rome and is notable for having the third largest unsupported dome in the world. During the Second World War, an aerial bomb fell through the dome during a mass, but the bomb did not explode. This event is largely interpreted as a miracle throughout the country.
The St. John's Co-Cathedral was built in the 16th century as a monastic church for the purposes of the Knights Hospitaller Order, also known as the Knights of Malta. About 400 members of the Order were buried in the building, whose tombstones are among Malta's major artistic and historical treasures.
The parish church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel is a neo-gothic church that has been rebuilt many times since its first construction in 1859. The last reconstruction dates from 1958, after the church was damaged during the Second World War.
The Xewkija rotunda was built between 1951 and 1971. The present church was built to replace the old one which had become too cramped. This first church was kept intact throughout the construction of the new one so that worship could continue to take place. The church was designed according to the plans of the Maltese architect Joseph Damato.
The Ta 'Pinu National Sanctuary is a Catholic religious building located in Għarb on the island of Gozo. Built in 1920, the sanctuary is a revered place of pilgrimage to Malta. It was erected in basilica in 1931.
The Carmelite Church (Shrine of Our Lady of Mount Carmel) is a Roman Catholic church located in Valletta. Begun in 1570 and rearranged over the centuries, the church was damaged during the Second World War and was rebuilt from 1958 to 1981. It is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.