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Open day at the Grand master’s palace

Open day at the Grand master’s palace

On Sunday 5th December, the Office of the President and Heritage Malta are inviting the general public to get a glimpse of the ongoing works at the Grand Master’s Palace in Valletta, Heritage Malta’s most ambitious project to date. This event is in aid of the Malta Community Chest Fund Foundation.

Visitors will be able to view the works in progress, particularly the areas co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), including amongst others the restoration of the 18th-century soffit paintings and wall decorations by renowned decorator Niccolò Nasoni in the Piano Nobile corridors, the ongoing works in the former Parliament Chamber where the Armoury shall be reinstated, as well as the restoration of the Casa del Monte and the Orangerie at ground floor level which, until very recently, were used as offices and are now being transformed into a visitor centre.

The Armed Forces of Malta Band will be in attendance to provide entertainment throughout the day. A bookstall selling Heritage Malta publications, specialist monographs and other heritage gifts will also be available for visitors to peruse.

All proceeds and donations will be going to the Malta Community Chest Fund Foundation. The Palace will be open from 10:00 to 17:00. Tours will be held on an hourly basis starting from 10:30, with the last tour commencing at 16:30. Entrance is free. To ensure their safety, visitors are being asked to wear closed, comfortable shoes. Visitors wearing high heels or flip flops will not be admitted. 

Built by the Knights of St John in the 1570s, the Grand Master’s Palace is the theatre where our nation was born and the first building to be constructed in the new capital city. Enlarged over the years, the Palace was a state within a building. During the British Period, it served as the Governor’s Palace and was the seat of Malta’s first constitutional parliament in 1921. Presently, the Palace is the seat of the Office of the President of Page 4 of 4 Malta. Whilst restoration works are underway, the President has kindly vacated the premises to allow the building’s rehabilitation.

The Grand Master’s Palace is the most visited site in Heritage Malta’s portfolio, welcoming around 200,000 visitors each year. Previously only the Armoury (at ground floor) and five staterooms at the Piano Nobile level, together with the main staircase, were open to the public. However, now this massive restoration project will grant access to over eighty-five percent of the building footprint. The first phase of this project, which is being co-financed by the European Union as part of the European Regional Development Fund for the sum of €10 million, is expected to be completed in the final quarter of 2022.

This initial stage shall see the reinstatement of the Armoury in its original location – the former Parliament Chamber; the restoration of the artworks in the corridors and Uccelliera of the Piano Nobile; and a visitor centre in the rehabilitated former Casa del Monte and Orangerie.

Phase two involves the restoration of the state rooms and the office of the President. Phase three will see the Neptune Courtyard and ground floor restored to their original purpose, whilst the final phase ends with the complete rehabilitation of the basement. The rest of the project will cost €18 million and be funded by the Maltese Government. The entire undertaking is expected to be completed by the year 2025.

With the regeneration of the Grand Master’s Palace, visitors will finally be able to experience this building which has been the centre of power in Malta for the past 500 years … in reality the embodiment of a nation!

Visit BirdLife for more information. The reserve is open between September and May.