Auberge de Castille

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This article is about the Auberge in Valletta which now houses the Office of the Prime Minister of Malta. For the Auberge in Birgu, see Auberge de Castille, Birgu.
Auberge de Castille
Berġa ta' Kastilja
Malta - Valletta - Pjazza Kastilja+Auberge de Castille 01 ies.jpg
Auberge de Castille, undergoing restoration
General information
Status Intact
Architectural style Baroque
Address Castille Square
Town or city Valletta
Country Malta
Coordinates 35°53′45″N 14°30′41″E / 35.89583°N 14.51139°E / 35.89583; 14.51139Coordinates: 35°53′45″N 14°30′41″E / 35.89583°N 14.51139°E / 35.89583; 14.51139
Construction started 1571
Completed 1574
Renovated 1741-1745
Design and construction
Architect Girolamo Cassar
Renovating team
Architect Andrea Belli

Auberge de Castille (Maltese: Berġa ta' Kastilja) is one of the seven original auberges built in Valletta, Malta for the langues of the Order of Saint John. The Auberge originally housed the langue of Castile, León and Portugal. The building is currently the offices of the Prime Minister of Malta.

The building is located in Castille Square, close to Saint James Cavalier, the Malta Stock Exchange and the Upper Barrakka Gardens. The Auberge is situated at the highest point of Valletta and overlooks Floriana and the harbour area.

History[edit]

Auberge de Castille was originally built between 1571 and 1574 to house the Langue of Castile, León and Portugal, one of the most powerful langues of the Order. The building was designed by the Maltese architect Girolamo Cassar, and it was regarded as the most innovative of his Auberge designs.

The Auberge was completely rebuilt from 1741 to 1745, during the grandmastership of Manuel Pinto da Fonseca to a Baroque design by another Maltese architect, Andrea Belli. The coats of arms of Castile and León and of Portugal, along with Pinto's personal coat of arms were sculpted on the facade of the building at this point. A bust of Pinto was also added.[1]

When the French occupation of Malta began, the knights were expelled from the Maltese islands. The Spanish knights moved out of Auberge de Castille with their movable property on 20 June 1798. Later that year, the Auberge was used as the Commission for National Property.

The Auberge then became the headquarters for the British armed forces in Malta in 1805. In 1814, a disabled contingent from the army of Egypt was accommodated in the Auberge. A Protestant chapel was opened in one of the rooms of the first floor in 1840. In 1889 a signalling station with a large aerial was installed on the roof to communicate with warships of the Mediterranean Fleet moored in the Grand Harbour. In World War II, the Auberge was bombed and sustained severe damage on the right side of the entrance. After the war, the damaged section was rebuilt and the aerial was removed.[2]

The Office of the Prime Minister was moved from Auberge d'Aragon to Auberge de Castille on 4 March 1972. In this building the Prime Minister leads the business of the government and every Tuesday he convenes his cabinet of ministers here.[1]

Over the years, some of the stonework began to crumble and the facades were blackened. Restoration of the Auberge started in 2009 and was completed in mid-2014.[3]

Commemorative coins[edit]

Auberge de Castille was depicted on two commemorative coins minted in 2008 by the Central Bank of Malta. The coins show the Auberge's portico on the reverse and the coat of arms of Malta on the obverse.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Auberge de Castille". Office of the Prime Minister. Archived from the original on 5 July 2008. 
  2. ^ "History of Auberge de Castille". Cultural Malta. 1 August 2012. Retrieved 12 November 2014. 
  3. ^ "Last scaffolding comes down as five-year Castille restoration is completed". Times of Malta. 13 July 2014. Retrieved 12 November 2014. 
  4. ^ "Auberge de Castille". Central Bank of Malta. Retrieved 12 November 2014.