The city of Mosta is famous for its long history and a majestic church widely known as Mosta Dome, which is also called the Rotunda of Mosta for its striking round form. Having 37 meters in diameter, the dome is considered to be one of the biggest in Europe and ranks ninth among the largest unsupported domes in the world. The giant church is a kind of Mosta touristic symbol and it is difficult to find a place in the city, from where it can’t be observed.
In fact, its official name is the Church of the Assumption, since it is dedicated to the Assumption of Mary – the patron saint of Mosta. According to the Catholic tradition, the Virgin Mary was taken up into Heaven after her earthly life had ended. In honor of this event the church was built in the central square of Mosta, designed by Giorgio Grognet de Vasse, a local architect. He was inspired by the famous Pantheon in Rome, but transformed its concept into neo-classical style. Since the design was borrowed from the pagan temple, the official Catholic Church in Malta didn’t approve the project and the architect had to build the church at his own risk by investing his funds, though supported by Mosta residents.
The first stone of the church was laid in 1833, while the construction lasted for 28 years. One of the problems with the construction resided in the fact that the new church had to be erected around the old one (it was built in the early 17th century and became too small for the increased parish). After Mosta Dome was completed, the old building was destroyed and the new church was praised as an architectural masterpiece.
Another remarkable historical fact is associated with Mosta Dome: in the times of WWII, a 500-kg German bomb fell through the dome right during mass, when there were about 300 believers. But breaking a hole in the marble floor, the bomb didn’t explode and nobody was hurt. This event was interpreted as a miraculous intervention of God and nowadays a copy of the bomb can be seen in the sacristy of Mosta Dome.
Also, tourists can observe the magnificent church interior, full of beautiful paintings and statues, stucco moldings, gilded and carved decorative elements. The inner space impresses with its size and is flooded with light, while thanks to the soft light shades of the walls and ceiling it seems as if the dome floats through the heavens. The facade has two bell towers and is profusely decorated with arches, columns, niches with statues of saints, offering tourists a perfect backdrop for stunning photographs.