The facade of a building in the heart of Valletta which used to serve as the court for the Knights of St John, known as Palazzo Castellania, has been restored to its original appearance. Today the building houses the Health Ministry.
Eight months of restoration have allowed the original beauty of the Baroque architecture and carvings which adorn the facade of this Palace, to be revealed once again. The work was in the hands of the Restoration Directorate within the Culture Ministry. At an investment of €120,000, the restoration concentrated on the facade of this building whose principle decorations are located towards the middle part where there is the entrance to the Palace, and which is mostly made of marble. The first stone of this Palace was laid in 1757 during the era of Grandmaster Pinto, based on designs by Francesco Zerafa, and the Palazzo was completed within three years.
Architect Jean Frendo, who was responsible for the project, said that prior to the restoration, the facade was covered by black soot, while some of the carvings were missing or in danger or falling off.
Jean Frendo said that “the work of restoring this Palace began with the cleaning of the facade using various procedures, depending on how hard the stone was. A lot of the carvings, balcony supports, and missing or chipped stone were re-built by means of a special mixture.”
The Culture Minister, Owen Bonnici said that the restoration of the facade of Palazzo Castellania is part of a series of restoration works being undertaken so that we can continue to enjoy our cultural patrimony.
Minister Bonnici said that, “we are very happy that the work which was promised was completed, even if it was not listed in the bid books. Because when we had applied for Valletta to be granted the title of European Capital of Culture, this restoration was not listed, but we still carried it out.”
Palazzo Castellania in Merchants Street is among the many main buildings and Auberges from the era of the Knights of St John.