San Anton Palace

San Anton Palace ( Palazz ta ' Sant'Anton ) is a palace in Attard, Malta. He is the official residence of the President of the Republic of Malta. The palace is surrounded by private and public gardens.


The palace was 1623-1636, during the reign of St. John, built as a summer residence for Grand Master Antoine de Paule. From his critics de Paule was accused of extravagant lifestyle, but Pope Urban VIII praised his piety and prudence, and set him on a par with the cardinals and other church leaders. Yet there is no doubt that de Paule maintained a lavish lifestyle. Even before his election as Grand Master, he acquired a large plot of land near the village of Attard, on which he built a villa. This place was closer to Valetta as Verdala Palace and was therefore easier to reach. The villa has been designed with generous proportions to provide accommodation for a number of guests and the staff. The house staff were the cooks, kitchen boys, food taster, torchbearers, wig maker, the winder of watches, doctors and bakers who had to bake especially black bread for hunting dogs. De Paule renounced after his election as Grand Master on the construction of a trireme in favor of the extension of his mansion into a palace, to which he gave the name of San Anton after his patron saint, St. Anthony of Padua.

A striking feature of the extension is the tower, which offers beautiful views of the surrounding countryside. The rectangular shape was mitigated by a cornice with a parapet railing and figurative gargoyles at each corner. The two upper floors were damaged and demolished by a lightning strike. Subsequent Grandmaster use the palace continue. Grand Master de Rohan abandoned on 12 September 1776 on the first anniversary of his election, the usual ceremony of the hand kiss and instead gave a big party, where the guests were entertained, among others, with a fish jump and the performance of French comedians.

In the palace there is a private chapel, which dates back to de Paule. It is dedicated to the Madonna del Pilar. The chapel is decorated with the Grand Master Antonio Manoel Wappeschilden the de Vilhena, Manuel Pinto de Fonseca and Emmanuel de Rohan - Polduc.

During the turbulent days of the Maltese uprising against the French was San Anton Palace from February 1799 until the surrender of the French garrison of Valetta in September 1800 the seat of the National Assembly. Captain Alexander Ball lived in the palace, first as President of the National Congress, and later as a civilian commissioner. During this time he built the loggias around the drawing room and an impressive trail around the outer courtyard. Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Sir Alexander's private secretary, was so impressed with the palace that he wrote: "I live when I'm in the country, and that nine out of ten days, at the Palace of San Anton. If life is a pleasure in airy, beautiful room, then I have it. "

During the British rule over Malta, the palace was the official residence of the governor, during the Verdala Palace, located in the Buskett in Rabat, was the summer residence of the governor.

The gardens of San Anton, which are accessible to the public since 1882, were designed in the Baroque style. In the gardens there is also an orangery. The fruits of the Orangerie were previously presented by the Grand Masters as a Christmas gift.

In the gardens there are regular cultural events, such as the State Garden Show instead.

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