Maltese Architecture is amazingly diverse! From ancient stone temples built long before the Egyptian pyramids to medieval, mannerist, baroque and also British constructions built over the centuries, Malta is host to an immense treasure of architectural gems.
Many tourists and historians flock to Malta to view these timeless masterpieces, taking pictures to share later with family and friends. So many buildings, temples, churches, palaces, Auberges dating from the Knights of Malta – the list is endless!
In this blog post we will be looking at some of the magnificent Palaces renowned for their beauty.
Verdala Palace was built in 1586 by Grandmaster de Verdalle. The Palace is in the middle of Buskett and is surrounded by woodland. This is where the Knights of the Order of St John used to enjoy game hunting and a stone ditch.
This magnificent building is spread over two floors, with five-storey high towers at each corner.
Over the years, the Palace underwent several embellishments by different grandmasters. It was also used as a military prison during the French rule between 1798 and 1800, and was later abandoned until it was restored by Sir William Reid in 1858, becoming the official summer residence of the British Governors.
The Verdala Palace is nowadays the official summer residence of the President of Malta. It is generally closed to the public except for the annual Ball of the August Moon, held in aid of charity.
Palazzo Falson, formerly known as Palazzo Cumbo-Navarra, Casa dei Castelletti, and the Norman House, is a 13th century medieval palace in Mdina, Malta.
It was built as a family residence by a Maltese noble family, hence its namesake is the surname of former owners, the Falson family. Today it serves as a house-museum with seventeen rooms of historic, domestic belongings and a number of antique collections.
It is the second oldest building in Mdina. During the rule of the Order of St. John the building housed Philippe Villiers de L’Isle-Adam, the first Grand Master of Malta.
Palazzo Vilhena, also known as the Magisterial Palace, is a French Baroque Palace in Mdina named after Grand Master António Manoel de Vilhena, who commissioned it.
French architect Charles François de Mondion designed the Palace which was built in two years; between 1726 and 1728.
In the 19th and 20th century, the Palace was used as a hospital, becoming known as Connaught Hospital after 1909.
Since 1973, it has been open to the public as the National Museum of Natural History.
The Inquisitor’s Palace
The Inquisitor’s Palace is architecturally diverse due to the many changes made by the 62 Italian Inquisitors who occupied it, and therefore made refurbishments according to their tastes.
Most of them went on to glorious careers in the Catholic Church – Fabio Chigi, for instance, became Pope Alexander VII, and Antonio Pignatelli, Pope Innocent XII.
It was originally constructed as civil law courts in the 1530s and was given to Pietro Dusina, the first Inquisitor in Malta, in 1574.
The Inquisition was on the island for over 200 years, often acting as a mediator between Bishops and Knights, until Napoleon’s arrival on the island ended the Order’s reign in 1798.
Palazzo Parisio also dates back to the time of the Order of the Knights of St John, when it was used as a hunting lodge by Grand Master Don Antonio Manoel de Vilhena, who ruled the Order between 1722 and 1736.
The Palace was later renovated in 1898 by The Marquis Scicluna, a wealthy Maltese banker and merchant.
The Marquis Scicluna managed to retain some elements which date to the time of the Grand Master Vilhena, such as the Orangerie and some architectural elements found in the garden.
Today Palazzo Parisio is used as a Wedding Venue and host various high-end events.
Auberge de Castille
The Auberge de Castille originally built in the 1570s to house Knights of the Order of Saint John in Valletta. The present building dates back to the 1740s, when it was completely rebuilt during the magistracy of Manuel Pinto da Fonseca. The new Auberge was built in the Baroque style, and has been called “probably the finest building in Malta”.
The Auberge is located in Castille Square, close to Saint James Cavalier, the Malta Stock Exchange and the Upper Barrakka Gardens. It is situated at the highest point of Valletta and overlooks Floriana and the Grand Harbour area.
In 1800 the British drove away Napoleon and turned it into their headquarters.
Today it houses the Office of the Prime Minister of Malta.
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