Built upon layer after layer of fascinating history, this is a splendid place of worship in an atmospheric ancient city.
Step into the lavish interior of St. Paul’s Cathedral, an important stop on any walking tour of enchanting Mdina. Often simply known as Mdina Cathedral, St. Paul's has a striped octagonal dome that stands out above the skyline.
Walk through the narrow surrounding streets and gaze upon the cathedral’s elegant traditional façade. Surrounded by charming alleys, a neighboring square and gardens, the cathedral has a lovely exterior. However, the real magic happens inside. The cathedral’s interior is remarkably ornate, with beautiful details wherever you turn. Every square inch is decorated with intricate masonry, gold, marble or delicate illustrations. Note flashes of crimson fabric around the arches. Walking through the cathedral, look for tombstones decorated with the emblems of the most important clergy among the colorful tessellated marble tiles on the floor.
The historical value of St. Paul’s Cathedral is quite astonishing. According to legend, the local governor Publius received St. Paul when the saint was shipwrecked on the eastern Maltese coast. Publius was converted to Christianity by St. Paul in his home, which was on this site.
The current church was built in the 17th century to replace previous structures, under the instruction of architect Lorenzo Gafa. Its construction was a big event for Mdina, with several small streets being demolished to make room for the cathedral. Small details from the older church survive in the newer one: frescoes, the door to the vestry and the baptismal font. The door in particular holds many memories of Mdina, being made of wood about 900 years old.
Look up to see stunning frescoes and artworks all around the walls of the cathedral, including the ceiling panels. The huge painting behind the altar, depicting St. Paul’s conversion, is by renowned artist Mattia Preti who decorated many of Malta’s loveliest cathedrals. Preti also created the artwork in the dome, commemorating St. Paul’s shipwreck.
St. Paul’s Cathedral is located close to two other gems of Mdina, the Archbishop’s Palace and the Cathedral Museum. Pick up a combined ticket to visit the cathedral and its museum together.