Grandmaster's Palace

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This article is about the Palace in Valletta, Malta. For the palace in Rhodes, see Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights of Rhodes.
Grandmaster's Palace
Il-Palazz tal-Granmastru
Sudika Valletta Grandmasters Palace.jpg
The Grandmaster's Palace
General information
Address Saint George's Square
Town or city Valletta
Country Malta
Coordinates 35°53′55.8″N 14°30′50.6″E / 35.898833°N 14.514056°E / 35.898833; 14.514056
Completed 1571
Design and construction
Architect Girolamo Cassar

The Grandmaster's Palace (officially referred to as The Palace[1]) is located in Valletta. It currently houses the Office of the President of Malta and the House of Representatives, as well as being a heritage site run by Heritage Malta.

History[edit]

Palace's interior

The site of the Grandmaster's Palace was originally an Auberge d'Italie. The Auberge was built in 1570 on the design of Girolamo Cassar. This was also the house of Eustachio del Monte, a nephew of Grandmaster Jean Parisot de Valette, founder of the city. In 1571 the Auberge was purchased and Cassar was once again commissioned to enlarge it into a palace.

Over the years, the Palace was enlarged and developed by successive Grandmasters to serve as their official residence. In the 18th-century, traveller Patrick Brydone noted that:

the Grand Master (who studies conveniency more than magnificence) is more comfortably and commodiously, lodged than any prince in Europe, the King of Sardenia perhaps only excepted.[2]

During the British period it served as the Governor's Palace. The Council of Government and the Malta Legislative Assembly (precursors to the present day House of Representatives) met here and it also was the first place to serve as the office of the Prime Minister.

Structure[edit]

The Palace Armoury

The palace is built around two courtyards, one of which is dominated by a statue of Neptune. There are two entrances in the front and one entrance from Piazza Regina (Republic Square) just west of the National Library. The entrance to the state rooms is in the Neptune Courtyard via a spiral staircase. The ceiling of this entrance was painted by Nicolau Nasoni in 1724.

The Armoury, housing one of the finest collections of weapons of the period of the Knights of Malta, runs the width of the back of the palace. Spears, swords, shields, heavy armour and other weapons, including Dragut's sword, are on display.

The Throne Room[edit]

The Throne Room, originally known as the Supreme Council Hall (Sala del Maggior Consiglio) was built during the reign of Grandmaster Jean de la Cassière. It was used by successive Grandmasters to host ambassadors and visiting high ranking dignitaries. During the British administration it became known as the Hall of Saint Michael and Saint George after the Order of St Michael and St George which was founded in 1818 in Malta and the Ionian Islands. It is currently used for state functions held by the President of Malta.

The cycle of wall paintings decorating the upper part of the hall are the work Matteo Perez d'Aleccio and represent various episodes of the Great Siege of Malta. The coat-of-arms of Grandmaster Jean de Vallette on the wall recess behind the minstrels gallery was painted by Giuseppe Calì.

In 1818, the British transformed this hall by completely covering the walls with neo-classical architectural features designed by Lieutenant-Colonel George Whitmore. These were removed in the early 20th century. The minstrel's gallery is thought to have been relocated to this hall from the palace chapel which was probably its original location. Of particular interest is the original coffered ceiling and the late 18th century-style chandeliers.

References[edit]

See also[edit]