The Knights of Malta built seven auberges, or homes, for each of their nationalities. The Auberge de Castlille was built for the Knights of Porgtugal, Leon and, of course, Castille. Each house had its own responsibility, and those of Auberge de Castille was defence. When the auberge was originally built its dual cannons had the perfect view of Malta's hinterland, giving it the perfect vantage point from the highest point in the city.
Since the passing of the Knights the building has been used as a military headquarters, first by the French during their brief stay in Malta, then by the British since 1800.
This Church was originally built about 1598, then rebuilt in 1681 through a generous gift from the Italian Grand Master of the Order of St. John, Gregorio Carafa 1680-1690 whose emblem embellishes the facade.
The churches interior was one of the first to be designed in the baroque style in Malta.
There are several important paintings inside the church.
Lunch-time concerts are held in the Oratory of St. Francis Church, every Tuesday at noon.
The music recitals last around 50 minutes and the ticket is €5.
Part of the income goes towards the Franciscan community of St. Francis
The Auberge de Castille et Leon was the official seat of the Knights of the Langue of Castille, Leon and Portugal. There were several such auberges in town – inns they would be in English. They were residences who gave hospitality to the Knights that did not possess a home in Valletta. There is an auberge for each Langue of the order of the knights.
When the Knights of St. John left the island, the Auberge de Castille became first the headquarters of the French occupation forces (1798-1800), later a British Army Headquarters and presently (since 1972) the Office of the Prime Minister.
In 16th-century Valletta each of the eight langues, national branches of the Order of St John, had its own auberge. These were grand lodging houses for the knights, a show of their wealth and status.
Many of the remaining auberges are now government buildings. The Auberge de Castille et Leon is now the office of the Maltese president.
The auberge of the knights of Spain and Portugal is the capital's finest example of 18th century mature Maltese Baroque and has a rate and grand symmetry. Situated at the highest point of the peninsula on a site originally designed for the Grand Master's Palace.
The Auberges of Valletta were the homes or headquarters of the varying ethnic groups which made up the Knights of the Order of St. John, and Valletta itself was meant to be a fortress to protect the island from attacks.
The Auberge de Castille is the largest of the auberges and is a beautiful example of Baroque architecture. The Auberge was first built in 1574 by the architect Gerolamo Cassar and intended to be the Magisterial Palace. Grand Master Manoel Pinto de Fonseca had extensive renovations carried out around 1744, and it is he whose bust you will see above the columned entrance. The architect in charge of renovations was Domenico Cachia. I was immediately drawn to the imposing and heavily ornamented building, especially its doorway. The building is like an older but still beautiful woman, although she is in some need of maintenance.
The Auberge was used by the British as military headquarters during World War II, when it sustained heavy damage during the bombing of Malta, but has since been restored once again. I did not see any obvious damage remaining on the facade while I was taking photos.
Today, the Auberge de Castille is the official residence of the Prime Minister of Malta.
Early in the 16th century the Sovereign Military and Hospitaller Order of St John was expelled from Rhodes by the Turkish forces of Suleyman the Magnificent. The knights, looking for any port in a storm, moved in to Malta. And here they stayed for two and a half centuries, paying an annual rent of one peregrine falcon to the representative of the King of Spain.
In 1565, the Turks besieged Malta. For four months both sides, including innocent Maltese civilians, suffered grievous losses, but the island held out. The triumphant knights, wary of a return engagement, built a fortified city on a promontory overlooking one of Europe's greatest natural harbours. They named it Valletta after their French Grand Master, Jean Parisot de la Valette. Other, even more historic Maltese cities have their own distinctions, and nearly every village is worth seeing. The land in between them all is fairly flat-there are no mountains or rivers-and criss-crossed with dry-stone walls to protect the soil from erosion. In springtime the countryside bursts into colour when the wild flowers bloom.
This auberge was originally one storey but during the grandmastership of the Italian Gregorio Carafa a second was added. His bust can be seen above the doorway set within this amazing coat of arms - there was so much detail in it.
The Auberges were the grand inns of the order of the knights - one for each language group, only seven were in Valletta but not all have survived.
1.Auberge D'Allamagne was demolished to make room for the Anglican Cathedral of St Paul.
2. Auberge D'Dauvergne was demolished during the war and it has now replaced by the Law Courts.
3. Auberge De France was also demolished during the war and now been replaced by the Worker's Memorial Building.
4. Castille et Leon, by far the most magnificent of the seven, today houses the Office of the Prime Minister. During the British period it was used as the Army headquarters and later by NATO. The bust and coat of arms over the doorway is of Grad Master Pinto.
5. Auberge D'Aragon, just opposite the formed Auberge D'Allemagne today houses the Minister of Finance.
6. Auberge D'Italie today houses the Malta Tourism Authority, having housed the Law Courts in fromer times.
7. Auberge D'Provence today houses the National Museums of Archaeology
This magnificent building was originally built by Gerolamo Cassar but was remodelled in Baroque style by Domenico Cachia for Grand Master Pinto de Fonseca (1741 -73) . The dominant feature of the two storey facade is the imposing doorway, which is flanked by paired columns, surmounted by military trophies and approached by a broad flight of steps.
Over the central window is the coat of arms of Grand Master Pinto de Fonseca.
The building, laid out round an inner courtyard, was formerly the British Military Headquarters, it is now the office of the Prime Minister.
In the gardens in front of the auberge, is a statue (1975) of Manwell Dimech (1860 - 1921) a pioneer of the socialist movement in Malta.
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