Verdala Palace was built in 1586 during the reign of Hugues Loubenx de Verdalle, and it now serves as the official summer residence of the President of Malta.
The site of Verdala Palace was originally occupied by a hunting lodge, which was built in the 1550s or 1560s during the reign of Grand Master Jean Parisot de Valette. The lodge was built in the Boschetto, a large semi-landscaped area that was used by knights of the Order of Saint John for game hunting. The hunting lodge was expanded into a palace in 1586, during the reign of Hugues Loubenx de Verdalle. It was further embellished in the 17th and 18th centuries, during the reigns of Giovanni Paolo Lascaris and António Manoel de Vilhena.
During the French blockade of 1798–1800, the palace served as a military prison for French soldiers captured by the Maltese or British. During British rule, it became a silk factory, but it was eventually abandoned and fell into a state of disrepair. Some repairs were undertaken during the governorship of Frederick Cavendish Ponsonby, and it was fully restored by Governor Sir William Reid in the 1850s. Prior to its restoration it was a temporal minor hospital between 1915 and 1916. It subsequently became the official summer residency of the Governors of Malta. On the outbreak of World War II in 1939, works of art from the National Museum were stored at the palace for safekeeping. The palace was restored in 1982 and began to be used to host visiting heads of state.
Verdala Palace was designed by Girolamo Cassar, a Maltese architect mostly known for the design of many buildings in the capital Valletta. The palace is an example of Renaissance architecture, and its design is possibly influenced by Villa Farnese in Caprarola.
The building has a rectangular plan, with pentagonal bastion-like turrets on each corner. The building itself has two floors, while the corner turrets are about five storeys high. The entire structure is also surrounded by a stone quarried ditch. Although the turrets and ditch gave the palace the outward appearance of a fort, they were mainly symbolic, and the palace was never really intended to withstand any attack. Nonetheless, the palace was still armed with four pieces of artillery on the roof. The interior of the palace is very ornate, with frescoes on some of the ceilings.
A chapel, stables and servant quarters are located a short distance away from the palace.References:
Kirkjubøargarður ('Yard of Kirkjubøur', also known as King"s Farm) is one of the oldest still inhabited wooden houses of the world. The farm itself has always been the largest in the Faroe Islands. The old farmhouse dates back to the 11th century. It was the episcopal residence and seminary of the Diocese of the Faroe Islands, from about 1100. Sverre I of Norway (1151–1202), grew up here and went to the priest school. The legend says, that the wood for the block houses came as driftwood from Norway and was accurately bundled and numbered, just for being set up. Note, that there is no forest in the Faroes and wood is a very valuable material. Many such wood legends are thus to be found in Faroese history.
The oldest part is a so-called roykstova (reek parlour, or smoke room). Perhaps it was moved one day, because it does not fit to its foundation. Another ancient room is the loftstovan (loft room). It is supposed that Bishop Erlendur wrote the 'Sheep Letter' here in 1298. This is the earliest document of the Faroes we know today. It is the statute concerning sheep breeding on the Faroes. Today the room is the farm"s library. The stórastovan (large room) is from a much later date, being built in 1772.
Though the farmhouse is a museum, the 17th generation of the Patursson Family, which has occupied it since 1550, is still living here. Shortly after the Reformation in the Faroe Islands in 1538, all the real estate of the Catholic Church was seized by the King of Denmark. This was about half of the land in the Faroes, and since then called King"s Land (kongsjørð). The largest piece of King"s Land was the farm in Kirkjubøur due to the above-mentioned Episcopal residence. This land is today owned by the Faroese government, and the Paturssons are tenants from generation to generation. It is always the oldest son, who becomes King"s Farmer, and in contrast to the privately owned land, the King"s Land is never divided between the sons.
The farm holds sheep, cattle and some horses. It is possible to get a coffee here and buy fresh mutton and beef directly from the farmer. In the winter season there is also hare hunting for the locals. Groups can rent the roykstovan for festivities and will be served original Faroese cuisine.
Other famous buildings directly by the farmhouse are the Magnus Cathedral and the Saint Olav"s Church, which also date back to the mediaeval period. All three together represent the Faroe Island"s most interesting historical site.