In the New Testament Jesus said that "it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God", and yet the leader of the pious Knights of Malta lived in luxury within the Grandmaster's Palace. A 19th century travel writer noted that the Grandmaster was "more comfortably and commodiously lodged than any prince in Europe". Such is the life of a man of God.
Today the Grandmaster's Palace, one of Valletta's first buildings, is the office of the President of Malta, and home to the House of Representatives. For visitors it contains the Armoury Museum, hosting a collection of weapons from the times of the Knights, and the Throne Room which was used by successive Grandmasters to greet ambassadors and other dignitaries. It also has a pleasant courtyard which is free to enter.
The palace was built in 1571 and was used by all the Grand Masters. In 1800 it became the official residence of the British governors. The palace is now the Presidential Office and Malta's Parliament house.
Visits start in the Tapestry Chamber, originally the Council Chamber of the Knights. The walls here are hung with stunning Gobelin tapestries which were given to the Order by Grand Master Ramon Perellos in 1710.
Of all the rooms the most magnificent is the Hall of St Michael and St George, also known as the Throne Room, decorated with a cycle of 12 frescos, vividly portraying the 1565 Siege of Malta. The artist was Matteo Perez d'Aleccio, an engraver and painter who had once helped Michelangelo with the Sistine Chapel.
These highly detailed scenes start with the Fall of St Elmo on 23 June 1565 and end with the departure of the Turkish fleet from Malta on 8 September. Opposite the throne there is a charming gallery made from the stern of the great carrack, the Santa Maria, in which the Grand Master de l'Isle-Adam sailed away from the island of Rhodes in 1522, fleeing the forces of Suleiman the Magnificient.
The Hall of the Ambassadors was originally the Grand Master's audience chamber. Known also as the Red Room, this is decorated in crimson with Louis XV furniture and a high frieze recalling episodes from the early history of the Order when it still had bases in Jerusalem, Cyprus and Rhodes.Leading off the Hall of St Michael and St George, the State Dining Room has magnificent 17th-century chandeliers and portraits of British monarchs, from King George III to Queen Elizabeth II.
Opened daily except Thursdays and during Parlament meetings.
If you're visiting Valletta just for a day tour make sure that this Palace will be included together with the St John's co Cathedral. Please click on the pic to see more photos and you can also visit my 'Grandmasters' Palace Travelogue'
The Grand Master's Palace is the palace where originally the Grand Master of the order of St. John's used to live. It was built by Gerolamo Cassar between 1568 and 1574 in renaissance style. Later on it was used by the British and now it hosts the House of Representatives of Malta and the President’s office.
Today you can visit both the rooms of the palace and the armoury museum inside (in the basement). You should especially not miss the Hall of the Supreme Council of the Knights. On the outside walls you can see mural “plaques” dedicated to the country’s independence.
For over 200 years this was the residence of the Grand Master of the Knights of St John. It is now the President's office and the seat of the Parliament.
It was built between 1573 and 1578.
The Armoury has a huge collection of armour and weapons. Some of the State rooms are also open to the public.
€10 entry fee.
The palace was built between 1573 and 1578 by the Maltese architect Gerolamo Cassar. For more than two centuries it was the home of the Grand Master, the head of the Order of the Knights of St John. In the State Apartments the Grand Master would meet foreign envoys. Today it houses the offices of the Maltese President.
Visiting today you get to see many of the Grand Masters apartments and admire their beautiful furnishings. The Corridors of the Knights are marbled corridors decorated with portraits of the Grand Masters, their coats of arms and suits of armour. The Armoury also contains many suits of armour and a superb collection of historical weapons.
I was unable to take any photos inside, but have a couple of videos of the Armoury & the Corridors.
When visiting the Grand Masters Palace the entrance fee of €10 is for both the Armoury and the State Rooms and includes the Audio Guide, you cannot just visit one are and you do not get a discount if you do not want the Audio Guide.
Like all the Museums on Malta it seems to be very expensive to get in and they all seem to be twice as much as they are really worth.
The Grand Masters Palace is open daily from 9.00 to 17.00
The Palace armoury is situated in the Grandmasters palace and the entrance fee of €10 is for both the Armoury and the State Rooms.
The Grand Masters Palace is open daily from 9.00 to 17.00. The entrance fee includes the State rooms the provision of handheld audio guides with 85 stops.(Although they do request a deposit or that you leave either your Passport or a Credit Card for the audio equipment, none of which I was not prepared to do) These guides are available in six languages (Maltese, English, Italian, French, German and Spanish) revealing the history of the various arms used in different eras beginning from the medieval times.
The Armoury is fantastic and a must for anybody who has an interest in the Knights of Saint John or just an interest in medieval armour and weapons
A number of important suits of armour have survived and are now in the Armoury. The most notable one are those of grandmasters Fra Martin Garzes and Fra Alof de Wignacourt
Entrance is €10 and covers the Armoury and the State Rooms with the Audio Guide, you can not just visit one are and you do not get a discount if you do not want the Audio Guide.
The Palace tapestries, known as the Gobelins (Gobelin Manufactures in France) were ordered purposely for the Palace of the Grand Masters in 1708. On their way via Marseilles by sea, the ship carrying the precious merchandise was captured by pirates, who insisted for a very high ransom for its release.
On arrival in Malta, the eight tapestries were hung in the Palace. One of the panels was divided in two, making a total of 10. The colourful tapestries represent scenes from the ‘New World’ showing exotic flora, fauna, animals and dark skinne natives bearing fruit and dense vegetation.
The Palace is opened daily, enabling vistors to view these wonderful Gobelins
Part of this building is now occupied by House of Representatives of Malta and the office of the President of Malta. The other part is a museum containing an impressive amount of knights' armor, weapons, and tapestries
The Palace Armoury is one of the world’s greatest arms collections housed in their original buildings, and ranks among the most valuable historic monuments of European culture.
The Knights of St John were a unique brotherhood of resolute warrior monks. From Malta, their island stronghold, they carried out their relentless crusade against the Ottoman Turks.
Grand Master Alof de Wignacourt transferred the Order’s arsenal to the palace in 1604. Apart from being lavishly adorned with impressive arms trophies, it held enough arms to equip thousands of soldiers.
Although only a fraction of its original splendour, the Armoury still contains abundant material of Italian, German, French and Spanish origin from principal arms production centres. Outstanding examples of splendid parade armour by master armourers command pride of place. Also displayed are exotic examples of Turkish armour in the Islamic & Ottoman section. The armoury also constitutes a rare example of a working arsenal surviving in its original building.
Click on pic to see more photos inside the Armoury Museum
The Grand Master's place is a huge building and thus difficult to get a decent shot of. This was the official residence of the Grand Masters of the Knights until 1798 and is now home to Malta's parliament.
We didn't ger to view the state apartments and armoury which can be seen - there was too much else to fit in but it has lovely balconies running along its exterior.
On the outside walls of the Grand Master's Palace are various certificates for when it became independent and also the letter from Buckingham Place awarding the people of Malta the George Cross for their bravery during the war.
The Sette Guino Monument depicts Maltese peasants clinging to the Maltese flag and commemorates the riots of 7th June 1919 during which British troops shot and killed several of the rioters.
While we were there another tourist (American) asked if we knew what the monument is about. We told her and she replied "wow, so people died..." and walked off. Dunno quite how she meant that remark.
This building stands on Palace Square opposite The Grand Master's Palace. It was built by the British "to house the royal arms", whatever that might mean - I presume it is an armoury of sorts. Next door is an appealing looking cafe/bar with plenty of outdoor seating.
Palace of the Grand Masters, completed in 1574. It contains portraits of the Grand Masters of the Order and European monarchs, interesting furniture, and other works of art. A unique collection of Gobelin Tapestries hangs in the Tapestry Chamber and the main hall is decorated with frescoes by Perez d'Aleccio, depicting episodes from the Great Siege. The decoration on the ceiling of the corridors is by Nicolo Nasoni. Many of the State apartments are decorated with friezes depicting episodes from the history of the Order. On view are works by Ribera, Van Loo and Batoni.