Overlooking a green hill near Mellieha village, Selmun Palace looks like a fairy-tale castle with its crenelated bastions, elegant bell-cot and beautiful balcony surrounding the thick walls. It is not surprising the tourists like to take photos against the background of this majestic building and walk around the picturesque neighborhood.
The palace took its name after a peninsula in the vicinity of the village. In the 18th century this site was chosen for building the palace for the needs of a Maltese charity organization, which was engaged in redemption of Christians captured by the Ottoman Empire and the Barbary pirates. The institution got the land from the wealthy local noblewoman Caterina Vitale and built a palace in order to rent it out, while spending the received money for ransoms. Since the organization was associated with the Knights Hospitaller, members of the Order rented it as a country house, where they came to rest and to hunt. Although the construction looked very powerful featuring the stylized bastions with embrasures, it never performed defensive functions. However, there is an opinion that the impressive look of the building frightened away pirates who took it for a real fortification.
In modern times, the palace was used as a part of a fashionable hotel complex owned by the Maltese national airline, which added new buildings and corresponding infrastructure. Some of the palace rooms served as hotel suites and a variety of special events was held there. In 2011, the hotel was closed because of the owner’s corporate restructuring and so far the future of the historic building is not settled.
While the Maltese government and society have been discussing the issue, tourists can observe this beautiful palace built in Baroque style and decorated with traditional coats of arms. After a photo shoot, it is worth to have a walk around the palace and enjoy picturesque views of the sea, the village and Mistra valley.