The Church of the Assumption of Our Lady, commonly known as the Rotunda of Mosta, is the third largest unsupported dome in the world and the third largest in Europe.
Built in the 19th century on the site of a previous church, it was designed by the Maltese architect Giorgio Grognet de Vassé. Its dome is among the largest in the world, with an internal diameter of 37.2 metres. the rotunda walls are 9.1 metres thick (necessary to support the weight of the dome). The rotunda dome is the third-largest church dome in Europe and the ninth largest in the world.
Grongnet's plans were based on the Pantheon in Rome. Construction began in May 1833 and was completed in the 1860s. The original church was left in place while the Rotunda was built around it, allowing the local people to have a place of worship while the new church was being built. The church was officially consecrated on the 15 of October 1871.
On April 9, 1942, during an World War II air-raid, a 500 kg Luftwaffe bomb pierced the dome and fell among a congregation of more than 300 people awaiting early evening mass. It did not explode. The same type of bomb as pierced the dome is now on display (the original was dumped at sea) at the back of the church in the Sacristy.References:
The city walls of Avila were built in the 11th century to protect the citizens from the Moors. They have been well maintained throughout the centuries and are now a major tourist attraction as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visitors can walk around about half of the length of the walls.
The layout of the city is an even quadrilateral with a perimeter of 2,516 m. Its walls, which consist in part of stones already used in earlier constructions, have an average thickness of 3 m. Access to the city is afforded by nine gates of different periods; twin 20 m high towers, linked by a semi-circular arch, flank the oldest ones, Puerta de San Vicente and Puerta del Alcázar.