Selmun Palace

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Selmun Palace
Il-Palazz ta' Selmun
Malta - Mellieha - Triq Selmun - Selmun Palace 03 ies.jpg
Facade of Selmun Palace
Selmun Palace is located in Malta
Selmun Palace
Selmun Palace
Location within Malta
Alternative names Selmun Tower
Selmun Castle
General information
Status Intact
Type Villa
Architectural style Baroque
Location Selmun, Mellieħa, Malta
Coordinates 35°57′33.2″N 14°22′53.5″E / 35.959222°N 14.381528°E / 35.959222; 14.381528
Completed 18th century
Client Monte della Redenzione degli Schiavi
Owner Selmun Palace Hotel Company Ltd[a]
Technical details
Material Limestone
Design and construction
Architect possibly Domenico Cachia

Selmun Palace (Maltese: Il-Palazz ta' Selmun), also known as Selmun Tower,[1] is a villa on the Selmun Peninsula in Mellieħa, Malta. It was built in the 18th century by the Monte della Redenzione degli Schiavi, funded by the Monte di Pietà.[2] The palace was located on the grounds of a hotel until it closed in 2011.[3]

History[edit]

Coat of arms of the Monte della Redenzione degli Schiavi on the palace's façade[4]

Selmun Palace was built by the Monte della Redenzione degli Schiavi, a charity that was founded during the reign of Grand Master Alof de Wignacourt in 1607 to finance the redemption of Christians enslaved by Ottomans or Barbary corsairs.[5] The site of the villa originally contained a coastal lookout post, and it was part of a large estate which also included the Mistra Gate. The estate had been left to the Monte di Redenzione by the noblewoman Caterina Vitale upon her death in 1619.[6] The villa used to be rented out to knights of the Order of Saint John as a place to relax and hunt wild rabbits, which were commonly found in the area. The rent money contributed to the redemption fund.[7][8]

The villa itself was built some time in the 18th century, although the exact date of construction is not known. The earliest record of the structure is on a 1783 map, when it was referred to as Torre Nuova (new tower). The palace's architect is unknown, but it is sometimes attributed to Domenico Cachia.[9]

During the period of the Maltese rebellion against the French, the British utilised the villa as a naval hospital, the first in Malta to be used for such purpose.[10]

In the 1840s, a semaphore station was installed on the villa.[11] The building was included on the Antiquities List of 1925.[12]

Hotel[edit]

Selmun Palace Hotel

A hotel known as Selmun Palace Hotel was built close to the villa, and it was owned by Selmun Palace Hotel Company Ltd, a subsidiary of Air Malta. Some suites were included in the villa itself, which was also used as a wedding venue.[13]

The hotel was closed in January 2011 as part of a restructuring strategy in which Air Malta began to focus solely on the airline industry instead of other operations.[14] Plans are being made to sell the hotel to the government,[15] while the construction of a new wing for the hotel has also been proposed.[16]

Selmun Palace was scheduled by the Malta Environment and Planning Authority (MEPA) as a Grade 1 national monument on 10 January 2012.[7] It is in need of restoration.[17]

Architecture[edit]

View of the Selmun Palace

Selmun Palace is an example of Baroque architecture. It has a square plan with four pseudo-bastions on each side, the design of which was inspired by the Verdala Palace and the Wignacourt towers. These bastions as well as fake embrasures were mainly built for aesthetic purposes, and the structure was never intended for military use. Despite this, it served as a deterrent for corsairs looking for a potential landing spot, since it looked like a military outpost when viewed from the sea.[9] The main facade has three doors, with the main one being surrounded by a decorative portal. An ornate window on the upper floor and a bell-cot on the roof surmount the main door. A balcony surrounds the perimeter of the entire building.[18]

A chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Ransom was located within the villa. In the 1980s, a new chapel with the same dedication was built outside the villa.[19]

Further reading[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Selmun Tower. 1 March 2012. Times of Malta. Retrieved 3 July 2016.
  2. ^ MacGill, Thomas (1839), "A handbook, or guide, for strangers visiting Malta", p.122.
  3. ^ "Selmun Palace Hotel workers made redundant". Times of Malta. 9 June 2011. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
  4. ^ Selmun Tower. 1 March 2012. Times of Malta. Retrieved 3 July 2016.
  5. ^ Velde, François (7 June 2002). "Heraldic Tour of Malta (2) - Other Depictions of Grand Magistral Arms". heraldica.org. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
  6. ^ Farrugia, Melanie. "Selmun Palace - Outside". maltain360.com. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
  7. ^ a b "Selmun Tower". Times of Malta. 1 March 2012. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
  8. ^ Dillon, Paddy (2016), "Walking on Malta", Cicerone Press Limited, ISBN 9781783622917, p. 98.
  9. ^ a b Spiteri, Stephen C. (2013). "In Defence of the Coast (I) - The Bastioned Towers". Arx - International Journal of Military Architecture and Fortification (3): 112–115. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
  10. ^ Savona-Ventura, C. (1998). "Human Suffering during the Maltese Insurrection of 1798" (PDF). Storja. 3 (6): 56-57.
  11. ^ "Semaphore Tower". Għargħur Local Council. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016.
  12. ^ "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.
  13. ^ "Selmun Palace Hotel". MalteseIslands.com. 2007. Archived from the original on 7 September 2011.
  14. ^ "Just one offer made in Selmun Palace Hotel sale". Times of Malta. 14 January 2010. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
  15. ^ Zammit, Marion (16 October 2014). "L-Air Malta tbigħ il-Palazz ta' Selmun lill-Gvern". Newsbook (in Maltese). Retrieved 14 May 2015.
  16. ^ "Mepa suggests new wing for Selmun Palace Hotel". Times of Malta. 27 April 2015. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
  17. ^ "Selmun Castle Mellieha Malta". livinginmalta.com. 16 June 2014. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
  18. ^ Debono, Charles. "Fortifications - Selmun Palace - Selmun". Mellieha.com. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
  19. ^ Muscat, Jimmy (14 March 2012). "Mellieħa - An introduction to a destination for all seasons". Mellieħa Local Council. Archived from the original on 27 August 2014. Retrieved 14 May 2015.

Notes

  1. ^ Plans are being made to sell the palace to the Government of Malta.