In southern Malta you are told to visit the Marsaxlokk harbor, with picturesque traditional boats. On the background you can see the Delimara power station, a strategic energy asset for the islands. It may see an eyesore to many, but Malta is a book case on the issues raised in a place where the land is so scarce you cannot hide needed big infrastructures (an equivalent solar array or a group of wind turbine would be equally visible in such a small island).
Coming from Spain Valleta is an interesting city; during the XIXth century most of the Spanish cities demolished their walls to create ensanches, urban extensions with regular layouts in continuity with the old cities. But in Valleta they have had both the city walls remaining in place and the urban extensions, which have managed to fit between bastions. The 1645 view shows the situation of the old city and a prevision for an extension towards the hinterland which has been built.
No doubt, the role of Malta in the Mediterranean, as an island with clear geostrategic qualities (just think of the “unsinkable aircraft carrier” of the British during WWII) has led to a lesser priority to destroy fortifications as compared to other regions. It is a wonderful place to see renaissance and baroque urban fortresses, and a city from the same moments which is well conserved and extremely attractive for photography.
The Assumption Church in Mosta (Malta) is presumed to have the third largest dome in the world, with an internal diameter of 37,2 meters. Built between 1833 and 1860, inspired by the Roman Pantheon, it is an impressive view form the road, in contrast with a more modest and domestic architecture. In the short distance, its isolation in a large void filled with cars makes it less impressive than its original model.
A dome is properly a hemispheric structure, an obsession of western architecture since ancient times, that has no clear advantage but showing that you can build it and make it prominent over a space. Properly speaking, Beijing’s temple is not a dome, but has the same function; geometry. As well as the Maltese church; if you want to see large churches and domes in a reduced space, go to Malta, even if there it was not a matter of imperial power…