Dominating St. George’s Square in the heart of Valletta, the Grand Master’s Palace is the theatre where the Maltese nation was born and the first building to be constructed in the new capital city. Built by the Knights of St. John for their illustrious Grand Masters and enlarged over the years, as from 1570, the Palace was a state within a building. Later, during the British Period, it served as the Governor’s Palace and was the seat of Malta’s first constitutional parliament in 1921. During the heavy attacks on the city in the Second World War, the Palace suffered considerable damage.
However, competent repairs after the devastating air-raids of February and April 1942 helped to revive the prime national and stately function of the building. The Palace subsequently became the seat of Malta’s Legislative Assembly set up in 1947, Malta’s first Parliament following Independence in 1964, and consecutive legislatures till 2015 when the parliament moved to its new house.
Presently, the Palace is the seat of the Office of the President of Malta. Among the distinguished collections in the state rooms, visitors can view the most comprehensive visual narrative of the Great Siege of 1565 painted by Matteo Perez d’Aleccio, the only complete and intact set of the famous 18th century French Gobelins tapestries entitled “Les Teintures des Indes”, and the late 18th-century Baroque illusionistic ceiling paintings, which reflect the pageantry and grandeur of the Grand Masters who indulged in imitating the great aristocratic courts of Europe. A portrait gallery depicts the various rulers of the Maltese Islands, spanning from the arrival of the Knights of St John in Malta till today.