The Grandmaster’s Palace


For any visitor to Valletta remotely interested in Malta’s history, an hour spent in the Grandmaster’s Palace is an intriguing experience. Dominating Palace Square, it was one of the first buildings to be built in Valletta – in 1571. The original Palazzo was designed by Gelormu Cassar but successive Grandmasters enlarged and developed the building as they deemed fit to use it as their official residence.

The Grand Master’s Palace has been the administrative centre of Malta for almost three and a half centuries. The original palace was the seat of the Grand Master of the Knights of St John and later, during the British colonial period, served as the Governor’s palace. Today it serves as the office of the President of the Republic of Malta.


When not hosting functions of state, the magnificent halls at first floor are open to the public. The Council Chamber is home to a rare collection of exotic Gobelin tapestries depicting hunting scenes from different continents. The State Dining Room is adorned with portraits of the Presidents of Malta and one painting of Queen Elizabeth II as Queen of Malta. The Supreme Council Hall is decorated with a cycle of twelve frescoes by Mattia Perez d’Aleccio depicting the Great Siege of 1565. The Ambassador’s Hall and main corridors are lined with portraits of European monarchs and Grand Masters of the Order.


The Palace Armoury is also located here and its bewildering array of armour and weaponry is nothing short of astonishing. This collection (5000 items) provides a human context to the Great Siege of Malta and the military prowess of the Knights of St John. Highlights include the personal armour of Grand Master La Valette, the dazzling parade armour of Grand Master Alof de Wignacourt, and a collection of weapons used by the Ottomans during the Great Siege of 1565.

Although I am a pacifist by nature I am always captivated by this vast display of historic military hardware. It serves to reinforce my belief that the Knights of Malta were an eminent military force and their presence in Malta was pivotal to the Islands survival.


From ‘IN LOVE WITH MALTA’ (The Hidden Treasures)

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