Palazzo Parisio (Valletta)

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Palazzo Parisio
Palazzo Parisio after restoration 05.jpg
Front façade of Palazzo Parisio
Alternative namesCasa Parisio
General information
StatusIntact
TypePalace
Architectural styleNeoclassical and Baroque
LocationValletta, Malta
Coordinates35°53′46.7″N 14°30′41.6″E / 35.896306°N 14.511556°E / 35.896306; 14.511556
Current tenantsMinistry for Foreign Affairs
Named forPaolo Parisio Muscati
Construction startedc. 1740
Completed1744
OwnerGovernment of Malta
Technical details
MaterialLimestone
Floor count3
Design and construction
ArchitectPeruzzi[clarification needed]
Website
Ministry for Foreign Affairs

Palazzo Parisio, sometimes known as Casa Parisio,[1][a] is a palace in Valletta, Malta. It was built in the 1740s by Domenico Sceberras, and eventually passed into the hands of the Muscati and Parisio Muscati families. It was Napoleon's residence for six days in June 1798, during the early days of the French occupation of Malta. The palace was eventually acquired by the de Piro family, and was later purchased by the Government of Malta. It was used as the General Post Office from 1886 to 1973, then the Ministry for Agriculture, and it now houses the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

Location[edit]

Palazzo Parisio is on Merchants Street, originally called Strada San Giacomo, one of the main streets in Valletta.[3] The palace is adjacent to Auberge de Castille, which is now the office of the Prime Minister. It faces Auberge d'Italie, which houses Muza, the National museum of art.[4]

History[edit]

Construction and early history[edit]

The site of Palazzo Parisio originally contained two town houses, which belonged to Fra Michel Fonterme dit la Chiesa and Francesco This. The houses were purchased by Fra Giovanni di Ventimiglia, the Balì of Manosca, in 1608.[3] His descendants exchanged the houses with Maria Sceberras in 1717.[5]

In about 1740, Domenico Sceberras demolished the town houses and began to build the palace. It was completed in 1744 by Margherita Muscati, his sister, and remained in the hands of the Muscati family. Eventually, it was inherited by Anna Muscati, who married Domenico Parisio.[6] By the late 18th century, the palace belonged to Paolo Parisio Muscati, who named the building Palazzo Parisio.[7]

French occupation[edit]

Bust of Napoleon commemorating his stay at the palace.

After the French invasion of Malta, Napoleon stayed at Palazzo Parisio for six days from 12 to 18 June 1798, before embarking on the Egyptian campaign. Following the Maltese uprising against French rule, Parisio Muscati left Valletta to join the Maltese insurgents, where he commanded the Naxxar battalion.[7]

Nineteenth century[edit]

Casa Caccia (left) and the Auberge (right)

After Malta became a British protectorate in 1800, Pario family returned to the palace. On 26 November of that year, Ralph Abercrombie arrived in Malta on board HMS Diadem, and stayed at the palace until he left for Egypt on 20 December. From 25 January to 14 May 1841, Lord Lynedoch, a personal friend of Parisio Muscati, also took up temporary residence at the palace during his stay in Malta.[3]

Following Parisio Muscati's death in December 1841, the palace was passed to his wife Antonia Muscati Xara. She married Joseph de Piro and the palace passed into the hands of the de Piro family after she died in 1856.[8] The de Piro family had eventually came to an agreement with the British government to exchange the palace with Casa Caccia.[9]

General Post Office[edit]

By the 1880s, Palazzo Parisio was co-owned by around 100 people, and was in poor condition. In 1886 the postmaster-general, Ferdinand Inglott, persuaded the owners to lease, and eventually to sell, the palace to the government. It was renovated, and opened as the General Post Office (GPO) in May 1886.[8] The ground floor was used as a livery yard for horses to be used by postmen.[10]

A third floor which housed the Audit Office was added after World War I.[8] The building was included on the Antiquities List of 1925.[11]

On 24 April 1942, during World War II, the palace was partially destroyed by aerial bombardment. The GPO moved to the primary school of Ħamrun[12] until it returned to the ruined palace on 16 January 1943.[13] The palace was rebuilt after the war, but some of the frescoes were lost.[7]

On 4 July 1973, the GPO moved from Palazzo Parisio to Auberge d'Italie, just across the street. The central mail room, registered letter branch and poste restante were moved to the former Garrison Chapel, which is now occupied by the Malta Stock Exchange.[14]

Ministry for Foreign Affairs[edit]

The first ministry that the building served was the Ministry for Posts and Agriculture.[15] The Ministry for Foreign Affairs moved to the palace in October 1973.[7] The exterior and interior of the building were subsequently restored.[16][17] Approximately one hundred workers, including diplomats, work in the building. Since 2014 the building has been considered unsafe, according to appointed architects, and is in process of refurbishment.[18]

The palace is scheduled as a Grade 1 national monument by the Malta Environment and Planning Authority.[5] It is also listed on the National Inventory of the Cultural Property of the Maltese Islands.[6]

Architecture[edit]

Palazzo Parisio was designed by the architect Peruzzi,[19] and it contains elements from both neoclassical[20] and baroque architecture.[21]

The palace consists of three blocks, which surround a central courtyard. The façade contains an elaborate columned doorway, supporting a timber balcony. There are three windows on either side of the doorway.[6]

Exterior of Palazzo Parisio
Interior of Palazzo Parisio

Art[edit]

The ceilings and walls of the palace have a number of frescoes painted by the Maltese artist Antonaci Grech. Some were destroyed when the palace was bombed in World War II, but others remain in good condition.[24]

A number of paintings are found in the palace; those by the Italian artist Mattia Preti are older than the palace itself.[25]

Frescoes and other artworks in Palazzo Parisio

Further reading[edit]

  • Denaro Victor F., "The Story of Palazzo Parisio", pp. 78-84.
  • Denaro Victor F., "Houses in Merchant Street, Valletta", pp. 158, 159.
  • Guillaumier, Alfie (2005). Bliet u Rħula Maltin (in Maltese). Santa Venera: Klabb Kotba Maltin. p. 939. ISBN 99932-39-40-2.
  • Antonia Moscati Gatto Xara

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Palazzo" (pl. palazzi): is any large building property of the state or private (often much smaller than the term palace implies in the English-speaking world). While palazzo is the technically correct appellation, and postal address, no aristocrat would ever use the word, instead referring to his or her own house, however large, as "casa". "Palazzo" followed by the family name was the term used by officials, tradesmen, and delivery men. During the rule of the Order it was known as Casa Parisio/Parisi or Casa del Barone Parisio/Parisi.[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Rivista" (in Italian). 30. Presso il Collegio araldico. 1931: 470. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  2. ^ Grazio V. Ellul. The French Invasion of Malta. Hyphen. p. 15
  3. ^ a b c Denaro, Victor F. (1958). "Houses in Merchants Street, Valletta" (PDF). Melita Historica. 2 (3): 158–159.
  4. ^ Dillon, Paddy (2004). Walking in Malta: 33 routes on Malta, Gozo and Comino. Cicerone Press Limited. p. 42. ISBN 9781849656481.
  5. ^ a b "One World - Palazzo Parisio". Times of Malta. 15 July 2008. Retrieved 15 September 2015.
  6. ^ a b c "Palazzo Parisio" (PDF). National Inventory of the Cultural Property of the Maltese Islands. 28 December 2012. Retrieved 15 September 2015.
  7. ^ a b c d "Palazzo Parisio". Ministry for Foreign Affairs. Retrieved 15 September 2015.
  8. ^ a b c "Villa Parisio and the Strickland Foundation". user.orbit.net.mt. Retrieved 15 September 2015.
  9. ^ Denaro, Victor F. (1959). Houses in Kingsway and Old Bakery Street, Valletta Archived 17 November 2015 at the Wayback Machine. Melita historica. Journal of the Malta Historical Society. 2 (4). p. 204.
  10. ^ Traill, Henry Duff (1891). "The Picturesque Mediterranean" (PDF). 2. from University of California: Cassell: 49. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  11. ^ "Protection of Antiquities Regulations 21st November, 1932 Government Notice 402 of 1932, as Amended by Government Notices 127 of 1935 and 338 of 1939". Malta Environment and Planning Authority. Archived from the original on 20 April 2016. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  12. ^ "The Maltese Postal Service – A Short Historical Sketch". The Malta Independent. 22 August 2010. Retrieved 15 September 2015.
  13. ^ Proud, Edward B. (1999). The Postal History of Malta. Heathfield: Proud-Bailey Co. Ltd. p. 190. ISBN 1872465315.
  14. ^ "Maltapost privatisation latest red-letter day in postal history". Times of Malta. 21 January 2008. Retrieved 15 September 2015.
  15. ^ Owen's African and Middle East Commerce & Travel and International Register. p. 885.
  16. ^ "Inħarsu lejn il-Belt Valletta minn erba' aspetti differenti". Department of Information (in Maltese). 1 August 2003. Retrieved 15 September 2015.
  17. ^ Zammit, Rosanne (3 March 2003). "The capital starting to light up, as the restorers do their work". Times of Malta. Retrieved 15 September 2015.
  18. ^ Kundizzjonijiet tal-mistħija fil-Ministeru tal-Affarijiet Barranin f’Palazzo Parisio. Net News. 24 September 2014. Retrieved on 18 July 2016.
  19. ^ Frendo, Henry (1989). Malta's Quest for Independence: Reflections on the Course of Maltese History. Valletta: Valletta Publishing & Promotion Co. Ltd. p. 52.
  20. ^ "Palazzo Parisio". myGuide. Retrieved 15 September 2015.
  21. ^ De Lucca, Denis (December 2013). "The city-fortress of Valletta in the Baroque age" (PDF). Baroque Routes (9): 16.
  22. ^ Guillaumier, Alfie (2005). Bliet u Rħula Maltin. Klabb Kotba Maltin. p. 939. ISBN 99932-39-40-2.
  23. ^ http://www.malta-canada.com/churches-chapels/Valletta.htm
  24. ^ "Palazzo Parisio". Ministry for Foreign Affairs (in Maltese). Retrieved 15 September 2015.
  25. ^ Sciberras, Keith (2009). Baroque Painting in Malta. Midsea Books. p. 407. ISBN 9789993272496.

External links[edit]