San Anton Palace

Attard, Malta

San Anton Palace is the official residence of the President of Malta, and is surrounded by both private and public gardens.

The San Anton Palace and its gardens owe their origin to the Knight Antoine de Paule, a French knight from the Langue de Provence, who was elected 54th Grand Master of the Order of St. John in 1623. As Grand Master, de Paule, who also founded Paola in 1626, acquired a sizeable plot of land near Attard and set about building a country villa which was nearer to Valletta than Verdala Palace.

He planned the villa on generous proportions so as to provide accommodation for his guests and for his large domestic staff which included cooks, food tasters, torch bearers, pantry boys, wig makers, a winder of the clocks, and physicians, as well as a baker to make black bread for feeding his hunting dogs. The Grand Master named the villa ‘Sainte Antoine’ after his patron saint, Anthony of Padua.

De Paule also provided the palace with a private chapel dedicated to the Madonna del Pilar with a vault decorated with the coats-of-arms of Grand Masters especially Emmanuel de Rohan-Polduc. De Paule also designed a symmetrical plan to the garden that consisted of more orange groves in the beginning. These oranges, he sent as gifts to those he desired to honour. A mausoleum dedicated to Grand Master de Paule may be found at St. John's Co-Cathedral in Valletta in the Chapel of the Langue of Provence.

Successive Grand Masters were to use the place as their country-residence. After the French occupation of Malta and the Maltese rebellion, the Palace was the seat of the Maltese National Assembly from February 1799 to the departure of the French in September 1800. It was later to become the residence of the Governor and of the Governor-General of Malta. Since 1974 Sant'Anton Palace has been the Official residence of the President of Malta.

Her Royal Highness Princess Victoria Melita of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha was born at the Palace on 25 November 1876. Victoria Melita was a granddaughter of British Monarch Queen Victoria and Albert, Prince Consort, through their son the British Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh and Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, so Melita was legally a British princess in her own right.

The gardens of San Anton, part of which have been open to the public since 1882, are laid out in a formal manner, with graceful walkways, sculptures, ornamental ponds, families of ducks and swans, and a small aviary.

The gardens contain a large variety of trees and flowers from around the world, including a variety of palm trees, cypress, jacarandas, araucarias and other exotic plants, some of them over three centuries old. For many years it has been customary for visiting Heads of State to plant a tree in memory of their stay in Malta. The gardens also contain an orangery, and it was once the practice of incumbent Governors to give baskets of oranges grown in the palace gardens as gifts at Christmas time.

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Details

Founded: 17th century
Category: Palaces, manors and town halls in Malta

Rating

4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Pierre Vella (22 days ago)
Great place to visit, grabbing some much needed shade......
Joseph Sammut (26 days ago)
Palace closed to public. Ongoing and continuous maintenance and upkeep have proved effective and made the palace more outstanding.
Trevor Taylor (32 days ago)
Very beautiful place to visit.
Dorothy Cassar (9 months ago)
Beautiful gardens, very well kept and clean
Clive Bartolo (10 months ago)
The gardens passage ways need to be repaired/replaced as parts of it are dangerous to walk on and impossible to move on with prams and pushchairs. Also, the closing time in winter should be extended to at least 6pm and some soft lighting should be installed (while replacing the passage ways).
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