Mosta Dome & WWII Shelters
Welcome to one of the most popular churches in Malta! Commonly known as the Rotunda of Mosta or the Mosta Dome. The full name of this Roman Catholic parish church and basilica is actually ‘The Basilica of the Assumption of Our Lady’. This church was built between 1833 and the 1860s in neoclassical style as a replacement of an earlier Renaissance church which had been built in around 1614. The design of the present church by Giorgio Grognet de Vassé was based on the Pantheon in Rome.
On 9th April 1942 a German aerial bomb pierced the dome and fell into the church during Mass but didn’t explode. Miracle! Well, it was but it wasn’t at the same time. There were no explosives! But I will tell you more about the event later on!
I’ve been to Mosta Dome countless times, however this was the first time I went up to the roof and all the way down to the World War II shelters. So let’s start the tour, shall we? 🙂
Before you enter the basilica take some time to admire its stunning façade and the portico (a portico is a porch leading to the entrance of a building) with six Ionic columns. The portico is flanked by two bell towers. I’m sure that you can see the similarities with Pantheon in Rome already. Being a rotunda, the church has a circular plan with impressive dimensions. The walls supporting the dome are about 9m thick!
The church’s interior contains eight niches, including a bay containing the main entrance and a deep apse with the main altar. Walk around, appreciate the beautiful craftsmanship! Isn’t it just stunning? Painted in blue, gold, and white. Decorated with rich colours and amazing statues. Very detailed decorative mouldings, and other gold-plated decorative elements.
It’s absolutely mind-blowing! Well, until you look up. You might even get a bit dizzy or loose your balance how impressive the actual dome is! How gigantic! The dome’s inside diameter is slightly over 39 metres and height nearly 55 metres! That’s pretty impressive isn’t it! Believe me, the pictures don’t do any justice! You got to see it for yourself!
While visitning the Mosta Dome you shouldn’t miss the sacristies, to view and admire the various objects of the clergy.
The miracle bomb that didn’t explode!
And here it is! This is the close replica of the famous 500kg bomb that penetrated the ceiling in the top left side of the dome, fell into the crowd of about 300 praying people and didn’t explode. If you ask the locals, they will answer that this was a miracle and thank the Virgin Mary for saving their lives.
However there is also another story. Being a Czech lady, it makes me feel very proud. As you may know, Czech Republic and Slovakia once formed Czechoslovakia. Like many European countries, during WWII Czechoslovakia was occupied under Nazi leadership.
People that were not ‘Germanized’, deported or taken to concentration camps were recruited as labourers to sustain the German military campaign. The story says that Skoda workers in Pilsen (Plzeň) in Bohemia created this 500 Kg bomb that fell on Mosta Dome, but instead of filling it with explosives, they filled the metal shell with sand!
Mosta Dome’s roof opened to public
This is something completely new for me! The last time I visited there was no entry fee, but also there were no official opening hours neither access to the roof! So this was definitely a pleasant surprise. There aren’t that many steps. I think the staff mentioned 60, but don’t want to be misleading you here. The staircase was wide enough for me to comfortably carry baby Oliver.
Important! While walking up the stars to the roof don’t miss out on this amazing view of the Ionic columns! Unusual and very impressive view of the portico.
I wasn’t expecting much, but the roof is actually quite pretty as it is! Simple, but nice. The couple of benches to sit down in the shade were awesome! Really convenient! This is pretty unusual visit when you think about it, normally you not allowed on the church’s roof in Malta. I don’t this so anyway. This is my first time.
There are some picturesque places so don’t forget your camera. The above picture is taken from the staircase leading up to the view point of the whole basilica. And the picture below with my friend Martina and baby Oliver is taken exactly on those steps!
I know this is not related, but I got to say it. Yes, every parent’s baby is the prettiest but Olly is a damn good looking boy and here he looks like one of the royal babies! 🙂 Sorry, had to have my ‘proud mommy moment’.
For the first time ever, in my case anyway, I got to see this impressive view of Mosta church from above! I mean, when you walk in, you realise that the basilica is enormous, but this is when it hits you! This place is huge! You got to pay a little bit extra, I think it’s 1eur, and come up here! I know, there is a live camera at the dome, but it’s not the same.
Now you are looking at one of the largest domes in the world. There are different opinions on the actual rating. Some sources say it’s the third largest dome in the world. Others say it’s the third largest church dome in Europe and the ninth largest in the world. Either way, it’s massive, very impressive and you got to see it! Write it down on your list of places to visit in Malta!
World War II Shelters in Mosta
This is my first time visiting the war shelters in Mosta. I was wondering how come I never noticed it and than I read that it had been closed to the public for many years before it reopened again. I found an article about the shelter from 2017 and there were some serious upgrades and improvements done in the last 2 years! Big well done to everyone involved for preserving this place of historical importance!
What can you expect to see in this war shelter? Let me just start by saying that the staircase leading to the shelter is very steep and narrow so please be careful and mind your head! The shelter is not particularly large, but it’s still worth the visit. You can read all about Malta during World War II and be prepared to be impressed, if you don’t know much about Malta’s crucial role during that time.
There is also an example of someone’s living space while seeking shelter from the never ending the bomb raids. I cannot even imagine what those people had to go through!
There is also a great number of displays representing many local trades showcasing some unique pieces of equipment! If you’re interested in history, war history or just expanding your general knowledge, the war shelter should not be missed. Which reminds me of the Lascaris War Rooms in Valletta, definitely a ‘must see’ place of interest for locals and tourists alike! This is important history that is unfortunately being forgotten!
Visitors’ Entrance to Mosta Dome: Opening hours are from Monday to Friday from 9:30 till 17:30, Saturday from 9:30 till 16:30, Sunday from 12:00 till 19:00.
Entrance fee: Adults 2eur, Children under 12 are free. Special Offer Package 3eur to visit Mosta Dome and shelter.