this oddly-named* cathedral in the center of Valletta is well worth the price of admission (€6), especially since there is a free audioguide that will lead you around the premises. what may not grand from the outside is in actuality quite opulent inside and is supposedly one of the best examples of high Baroque artistry (and i believe it!).
* it’s a “co-Cathedral” along with the cathedral in another town on the island (Mdina).
built in the 1570s by the Order of the Knights of St. John (aka the Knights Hospitaller, aka the Christian military order from the Middle Ages for whom Malta was a home base), the cathedral was redone in the 17th century and outfitted with the fancy and grandiose decorations that were en vogue at the time and which we see today.
because there’s no way an Instagram shot can come close to capturing the splendor of this church, i’m including a photo from my “real” camera, which still doesn’t quite do it justice:
be sure to continue the tour all the way through the oratory and the museum to see famous works by Caravaggio and illuminated choral books — the latter of which are quite cool, even if you’re not a fan of illuminated manuscripts or ancient music.
sidebar: dress code there isn’t someone manning the door turning away underdressed people, but i have a suspicion the people at the ticket counter might have something to say. shawls are provided for women who come with bare shoulders; not sure if men could borrow the same if they’re in tank tops (i brought a t-shirt to change into). shorts seem to be ok; the longer the better. no stiletto heels because they can damage the marble flooring; a sign said you could buy slippers at the front desk. i read some reviews that said people were allowed in wearing tank tops, so it might be possible, but still, it’s disrespectful so i wouldn’t!
here’s one from the Grandmaster’s Palace. the richly-painted hallways are nice, but the rooms are kinda meh (and you can’t even see a lot of them). the price is quite steep at €10, which includes admission to the armory (and an audioguide there). i don’t want to say it’s not worth it, but at the same time it’s hard for me to say it is. (there aren’t even signs identifying the handful of rooms you can visit — definitely a place to have a guidebook at the ready.)