Our first stop of major interest was the Mosta Dome (pronounced Mosta Doma for you English speakers). The cathedral was built in 1860 by George Gronet de Vasse, a French man wo was living on Malta. Construction took 27 years utilizing the labor of 1,500 local residents. The tour guide reported that Mosta’s Dome is the 3rd largest unsupported dome in the world.
It is a beautiful cathedral from the outside, but inside it is quite stunning. In 1942 a large bomb crashed through the dome and landed into the church pews below. Luckily the bomb failed to detonate. If it had, it certainly would have blown the whole dome apart destroying the cathedral. The locals attribute the failure of the bomb to a miracle from heaven. A display of the bomb is located on site; yeah, it was quite a large bomb – looked like a 500 pounder.
The dome is quite ornate on the inside and the church, while ornately decorated, is not too extravagant.
A wide-angle shot that I borrowed from another photographer (who was wise enough to travel with his SLR & wide-angle lense) will give you an idea of what it looks like to the naked eye – well, a lot better than my little CyberShot camera can… I didn’t shrink this photo down too much; if you click on it, it blows up quite nicely.
Mosta Dome photo by Jean-Christophe Benoist
Outside I enjoyed some people watching and looked at the old cannons near the Dome. I was thinking that you couldn’t have cannons like this in a major U.S. city because some fraternity would steal them as part of an initiation prank.
Once I was back on the bus, on the top of the open upper deck, I shot some photos as we zoomed down the streets of Mosta. All of the locals seemed to get a big kick out of me, up on the bus, all wet with the wind streaming through my hair. I got a lot of smiles and waves and it was a real fun time.
We wound our way out of Mosta and began working towards the “Silent City” of Mdina – so named because it became like a virtual ghost town after the Knights abandoned it for Valletta. You can see the top of the Mdina Cathedral and the walled city on left side of this photo at the horizon.
Mdina was the “old” city inhabited by the Crusaders. They prefered to be inland where they were not susceptible to sea attack. As the technology changed and gunpowder and cannon were adapted, Mdina was not as good a choice to guard Malta. When the Ottoman Turks sieged the city, the Knights of Malta moved the capital to Valletta where they walled the city to better defend the island from sea invasion.
I took dozens of photos on the drive from Mosta to Mdina but I was pleasantly surprised find this photo that captured the “essence” of the middle plain in Malta. Malta has a high concentration of rocks and these must be cleared in order to till the farmland. The farmers stack them up into walls to separate the fields. The photo below shows the hills, farmland, Mdina, and the neatly arranged stone walls. Luckily, the weather broke in time to capture this shot; I was constantly taking the camera out and putting it away as we drove through rain storm after rain storm. This photo also blows up well and I think its not too bad for a silly little Sony P9 from a moving bus.
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