The town of Mosta is situated in the centre of the island. It was only a small hamlet in medieval times but during this century it has grown considerably in size. Today, Mosta is a busy township and also a market town.
Mosta's pride is the Rotunda Parish Church, noted for its enormous dome which is said to be the third largest in Europe.
The Rotunda was constructed between 1833 and 1860, on the site of an older church. In fact, the latter was left in place during the works on the new edifice and it was only dismantled in 1860 when the Rotunda was almost completed. The old church dated from 1641 and was a fine specimen of typical Maltese church architecture.
It was designed by the eminent Maltese architect Tommaso Dingli. It is unfortunate that it had to be sacrificed to make place for its modern substitute.
The Rotunda was planned by George Grognet de Vasse, a Maltese engineer of French origin. As a young man de Vasse served in Napoleon's army.
The church is a massive circular structure with a conical dome.
Its walls, which are about 6 metres thick, enabled its construction without the use of scaffolding. It is very similar to the Pantheon of Rome. The facade is embellished with ionic columns and with a portico surmounted by two fine belfries.
The interior diameter is 45 metres and its height up to the lantern is 51 metres. The bays of the altars are accommodated in the depth of its walls.
The temple is dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin.
The feast day, on August 15th, is an occasion of joyful celebrations with street decorations, music, fireworks and a religious procession with the statue of Our Lady.
Another important day in Mosta's calendar is Good Friday.
Several statues depicting episodes from the Lord's Passion are carried through the town in a procession characterised by biblical costumes and symbols. This procession, is very popular and is followed by many.
In April 1942, when air bombardments were at their worst in Malta, a German bomb fell on the Rotunda. It pierced the dome, fell onto the Church pavement, bounced against the wall - but failed to explode. The parishioners consider this fact as a miraculous intervention by their patron, the Virgin Mary.
A replica of the 200 kg bomb is now preserved in the sacristy and exposed to public view.
The Rotunda Church and the famous bomb have helped to make Mosta a prosperous little town and a mecca for visitors from all parts of Europe and the Commonwealth.