San Anton Palace

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San Anton Palace - Attard - Malta

San Anton Palace is a palace located in Attard, Malta. It is the official residence of the President of Malta, and is surrounded by both private and public gardens.

History[edit]

The San Anton Palace and its Gardens owe their origin to the Knight Antoine de Paule, a French knight from the Langue de Provence, who was elected 54th Grand Master of the Order of St. John in 1623.

As Grand Master de Paule, who also founded Paola in 1626, acquired a sizeable plot of land near Attard and set about building a country villa which was nearer to Valletta than Verdala Palace.

He planned the villa on generous proportions so as to provide accommodation for his guests and for his large domestic staff which included cooks, food tasters, torch bearers, pantry boys, wig makers, a winder of the clocks, and physicians, as well as a baker to make black bread for feeding his hunting dogs. The Grand Master named the villa ‘Sainte Antoine’ after his patron saint, Anthony of Padua.

De Paule also provided the palace with a private chapel dedicated to the Madonna del Pilar with a vault decorated with the coats-of-arms of Grandmasters especially Emmanuel de Rohan-Polduc. De Paule also designed a symmetrical plan to the garden that consisted of more orange groves in the beginning. These oranges, he sent as gifts to those he desired to honour. A mausoleum dedicated to Grand Master de Paule may be found at St. John's Co-Cathedral in Valletta in the Chapel of the Langue of Provence.

Successive Grand Masters were to use the place as their country-residence. After Napoleon I’s stay in Malta, the Palace was the seat of the National Assembly of France from February 1799 to the departure of the French in September 1800. It was later to become the residence of the Governor and of the Governor-General of Malta. Since 1974 San Anton Palace has been the Official residence of the President of Malta.

Her Royal Highness Princess Victoria Melita of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha was born at the Palace on 25 November 1876. Victoria Melita was a granddaughter of British Monarch Queen Victoria and Albert, Prince Consort, through their son the British Prince Alfred, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, so Melita was legally a British princess in her own right.

Gardens[edit]

The public gardens of San Anton, open to the public since 1882, are laid out in a formal manner, with graceful walkways, sculptures, ornamental ponds, families of ducks and swans, and a small aviary. They contain a large variety of trees and flowers from around the world, including a variety of palm trees, cypress, jacarandas, araucarias and other exotic plants, some of them over three centuries old. For many years it has been customary for visiting Heads of State to plant a tree in memory of their stay in Malta. The gardens also contain an orangery, and it was once the practice of incumbent Governors to give baskets of oranges grown in the palace gardens as gifts at Christmas time.

Culture[edit]

A number of significant annual events are held at San Anton Gardens, including the Malta Horticultural Show, and open-air theatre, dance and musical performances.

Recent events[edit]

In 2005, Queen Elizabeth II stayed at this palace during her visit in Malta, just as she did in previous Royal visits, both in her capacity as Head of the Commonwealth of Nations and, in 1954 and 1967 while she was still Queen of Malta. Malta became a republic in 1974. Traditions Malta: A permanent exhibition showing traditional Maltese skills such as lace making, clothing weaving, glass blowing and stone carving.

Coordinates: 35°53′47″N 14°26′49″E / 35.89639°N 14.44694°E / 35.89639; 14.44694