In the centre of Valletta, spotted between the Old Theatre, Archbishop and Merchant Streets the Grandmaster’s Palace is situated. Built in 1569, the Palace belongs to one of the first buildings of Valletta. During its history it was mostly used as the place of accommodation for Malta’s government. First it was hosted by the Knights, then by the British government and today it serves as the President’s office and the House of Representatives.
The initial building was constructed for Eustachio del Monte. Then it was bought by Jean de la Cassiere in the 1570s, when he occupied the Grand Master’s position. He decided to enlarge the Palace and the project was fulfilled by the respected Maltese architect Girolamo Cassar. With a pace of time, the building was considerably redesigned and enlarged by the following Grand Masters for several times. The present plan the Grandmaster’s Palace obtained in the 18th century.
When the rooms of the Palace are not occupied by certain state affairs, they are opened to the public to demonstrate historic treasures and interiors carefully stored inside for ages. Thus, the State Dining Room can boast with a painting depicting Queen Elizabeth II in the role of Malta’s Queen and a range of Malta President’s portraits. The main corridors of the building and the Ambassador’s Hall are hung with portraits of the Knights Hospitallier and some European monarchs.
The Council Chamber houses a great collection of Gobelin tapestries illustrated with the scenes from various tropical sites such as South America, Africa, India, and the Caribbean. Woven in France for Ramón Perellos y Roccaf, one of the Grand Masters, and being almost 300 hundred years old, the tapestries are nevertheless very well preserved. As to this room, also called the Tapestry Hall, it was used as the Parliament’s meeting room from the 1921 and until 1976, when the Parliament relocated in the ex-armoury premises. Today the Parliament occupies its own building built for it in 2015.
Another precious collection of the Grandmaster’s Palace is stored in the Palace Armoury. These quarters keep safely the weapons and armours of the St.John’s Order Knights and their war trophies. Among the most fascinating exponents one can find the personal armours of the Grand Masters Alof de Wignacourt and Jean de Valette.
Among the most fascinating quarters of the Palace is the Throne Room, which was initially called the Supreme Council Hall. In the times of the Knights it was used by the Grand Masters as guest premises for ambassadors and grandees. Under the British it was renamed the Hall of St.Michael and St.George and the Grandmaster’s Palace itself was renamed the Governor’s Palace. Today the Hall is used by the President of Malta to serve various state functions. Visiting this Room guests are usually amazed by the beauty of the chandeliers and coffered ceiling. The Hall, also known as the Red Room, is decorated with furniture from Louis XV and its walls are adorned with frescoes of Mattia Perez d’Aleccio. The scenes of the Great Siege of Malta and the early St.John’s Order history are illustrated on them.
In general, every room, every corridor and even every corner of the Palace deserves attention as the Grandmaster’s Palace is so generously furnished with various historic artifacts created throughout all the period of the state existence. Today it is a national monument with a Grade 1. It should be definitely visited by all the guests of Valletta since this is one of those precious places of interests where you can trace all the history of Malta.
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