|Native name||Ġlormu Cassar|
Gudja or Birgu, Malta, Kingdom of Sicily
|Died||between 1589 and 1592 (aged c.69-72)
|Known for||Various buildings in Valletta, including Saint John's Co-Cathedral, the Grandmaster's Palace in Valletta and the Auberges|
|Allegiance||Order of Saint John|
|Battles/wars||Battle of Djerba (1560)
Great Siege of Malta (1565)
Girolamo Cassar, also known as Ġlormu Cassar, was a Maltese architect and military engineer who designed many buildings in the capital Valletta.
Cassar was born around 1520 in Gudja or Birgu to a Sicilian family who had lived in the Maltese islands since around 1440. He fought in the Battle of Djerba of 1560. Five years later, he was a military engineer during the Great Siege of Malta in 1565 when he helped repair some of the fortifications of Birgu and Senglea.
Cassar became assistant to Francesco Laparelli in the building of Valletta and helped him design some of the fortifications. He took over following Laparelli's departure from Malta in 1569 (and his death a year later). Since Cassar had only designed military architecture before, he briefly went to study in Italy where he learnt about mannerist architecture. He returned to Malta within a year and he began to design various buildings, both in Valletta and elsewhere on the island.
Most of these were later renovated or destroyed. In some cases such as Auberge de Castille, the new Auberge was completely rebuilt and the building was completely different from the original design. However a few buildings such as Auberge d'Aragon and the exterior of Saint John's Co-Cathedral retain Cassar's original design.
He also designed various churches, the bakery, the mills and some private palaces and houses in Valletta, some churches in Rabat and Verdala Palace. Other buildings such as the Sacra Infermeria were probably also designed by Cassar although no actual documents or plans survive about these.
Girolamo Cassar lived with his wife Mattea and his two sons at Strada Pia (now Melita Street), Valletta. One of his sons, Vittorio Cassar, later became an architect as well. Cassar died sometime after January 1589, when he made his second will.
Buildings attributed to Cassar
The following buildings are thought to have been designed by Cassar (in some cases this is just an attribution).
- Our Lady of Victories Church (1567)
- Church of the Assumption (c.1570)
- House of Fra Eustachio del Monte (c.1570)
- Auberge d'Aragon (1570s)
- First Auberge de France (1570)
- First Auberge d'Italie (1570)
- St Augustine Church (1571)
- St Dominic Church (1571)
- St Mary of Jesus Church (1571)
- Auberge de Castille (1571-1574)
- Grandmaster's Palace (1571-1574)
- Auberge d'Allemagne (1571-1575)
- Auberge d'Auvergne (1571-1583)
- St. John's Co-Cathedral (1572-1577)
- Auberge de Provence (1574)
- Sacra Infermeria (1574)
- Second Auberge d'Italie (1574-1579)
- Ta' Ġieżu Convent (1575)
- Church of St Catherine of Italy (1576)
- St Catherine Monastery (1576)
- Convent of Carmelite friars (1576)
- St Paul's Shipwreck church (1577)
- Second Auberge de France (1588)
- Del Soccorso Chapel in Fort Saint Elmo
- various other palaces and fortifications
Elsewhere in Malta
- Construction of Birgu and Senglea (1560s)
- Verdala Palace, Siġġiewi (1586)
- Capuchin Convent, Floriana (1586)
- Old convent of St Augustine, Rabat (1588)
- Old convent of St Francis, Rabat (1588)
- St Mark Church, Rabat
The road leading from Floriana to Castille Square in Valletta is named Triq Girolamo Cassar after the architect. He was featured on Maltese stamps twice, in 1966 and 1974.
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