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VERDALA PALACE

 

The Verdala Palace is perched on a hilltop adjoining and overlooking Buskett Gardens in a lush valley south of Rabat and east of Dingli. It was built by Grand Master Hughes de Verdalle in 1588 as a summer residence. The palace is not open to the public, but it does offer a notable landmark visible clearly from Dingli Cliffs, towering as it does over the Buskett woodland.

The site of Verdala Palace was originally occupied by a hunting lodge, which was built in the 1550s or 1560s during the reign of Grand Master Jean Parisot de Valette. The lodge was built in the Boschetto, a large semi-landscaped area that was used by the Knights of the Order of St John for game hunting. The hunting lodge was expanded into a palace in 1586, during the reign of Hugues Loubenx de Verdalle and was further embellished in the 17th and 18th centuries.

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The palace then became the Governor’s country residence and in the Second World War was used as a repository for the National Museum of Arts. Later it played host to many distinguished dignitaries including King George and Queen Mary, King George VII, King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra, Colonel Gaddafi of Libya, Josip Broz Tito of Yugoslavia and President Leone of Italy.

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Verdala Palace was designed by the famous Maltese architect, Glormu Cassar, who designed many other iconic buildings including St John’s Co-Cathedral in Valletta. With four towers, one on each corner, this is another impressive example of Cassar’s wonderful creativity and is well worth seeing. It is now the official summer residence of the President of Malta and is not open to the public. In recent years some important fund raising events including the annual August Moon Ball and concerts in aid of the President’s Community Chest Fund are held at the palace.

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

Paperback cover

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