malta caravaggio

A New Caravaggio Gallery Inside Malta’s St John’s Co-Cathedral Opens

Written by Albert Fenech
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It’s estimated there are 365 churches and chapels spread throughout Malta and Gozo, but of the hundreds, two cathedrals stand out as beacons of Baroque art and architecture: the main St Paul’s Cathedral in Mdina dedicated to Malta’s patron saint and the St John Co-Cathedral in Malta’s capital city of Valletta.

Both are magnificent in their décor and religious dedication, but the most prominent is the St John Co-Cathedral, now home to The Caravaggio Centre, which opened this spring in a wing adjacent to the cathedral’s oratory.

Dedicated to the internationally renowned painter Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, better known the world over as Caravaggio, the new gallery cost roughly €2.1 million and offers a glimpse of the artist’s works, style, and techniques through interactive and informative exhibits.

The Caravaggio Centre is part of a greater €13 million extension and modernisation project of the of St John’s Co-Cathedral museum slated to open its doors in 2025.

malta caravaggio
The new Caravaggio Centre gives visitors an up close look at the famous painter’s life and works

 

What to Expect Inside the Caravaggio Centre

The new gallery is spread over two levels and includes ‘Face to Face’, an area that zeros in on the famous painting, ‘The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist ‘, with life-size projections that get onlookers up close to  the important details of the work. There are also attractions related to Caravaggio’s other prominent work such as ‘Saint Jerome in His Study ‘or simply called ‘Saint Jerome’ that provide educational information and background on the painting.

An audio-visual component entitled ‘Meet Caravaggio’ provides a narrative of the life, career, and artistic achievements of the controversial yet talented artist and his work during his time in Malta.

The scientific section digs into Caravaggio’s creative process with the assistance of non-invasive infrared Reflectography and UV light.

Malta caravaggio
Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, better known the world over as Caravaggio

 

A New Museum

The Foundation of St John’s Co-Cathedral embarked on building its new museum, a flagship project to recast the displays of the Co-Cathedral’s treasures. When opened in 2025, it will accommodate the artefacts currently kept in storage, including 29 priceless Flemish tapestries.

The tapestries are the largest complete set in the world, ordered from the weaver Judocus de Vos in Brussels. The set arrive in Malta around 1702.

Caravaggio and Malta

Caravaggio travelled to Malta in 1607 after killing a man in Rome. His painting prowess ensured he was inducted as a knight by the Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes, and of Malta,  a Roman Catholic religious order. However, Caravaggio would soon involve himself in another brawl, leading to his arrest and expulsion from the order, and to his eventual escape to Sicily. Read more about his life here.

The Italian artist was born in 1571 and ranks amongst the most influential painters in the history of art.

malta baroque
Malta’s St John’s Co-Cathedral is a treasure of baroque architecture

How to Visit + Buy Tickets

Plan your trip: Visit Malta

Buy tickets: St John’s Co-Cathedral

Cathedral address: St John’s Square, Valletta

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BeSeeingYou In: St John’s Co-Cathedral, Valletta

Good to Know: Entrance to cathedral costs  €15 per person.

WOW! Factor: The building and its treasures are among the most impressive in the world

Tip:  Buy tickets in advance, especially during summer months

Author bio: Albert Fenech

Find more travel inspiration at BeSeeingYou

Albert Fenech
Born in 1946, Albert Fenech’s family took up UK residence in 1954 where he spent his boyhood and youth before temporarily returning to Malta between 1957 and 1959 and then coming back to Malta permanently in 1965. He spent eight years as a full-time journalist with “The Times of Malta” before taking up a career in HR Management and Administration with a leading construction company building the Benghazi Hospital in Libya, later with Malta Insurance Brokers, Malta’s leading insurance Broker and finally STMicroelectronics Malta, employing 3,000 employees and Malta’s leading industrial manufacturer. Throughout he actively pursued freelance journalism and broadcasting for various media outlets covering social issues, current affairs, sports and travel. He was Publications Editor for the Malta Football Association for 25 years and has written for a number of publications both in Malta and overseas, as well as publishing two e-books.

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