In the heart of Malta’s capital city of Valletta, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, lies the majestic Grand Master’s Palace, chosen as the main presidency venue. During Malta’s Presidency of the Council, the Palace will host a wide variety of meetings which will include both High-Level and ministerial meetings. This historical site, designed by Girolamo Cassar in 1571, always held a central role in Maltese policy making, as evidenced by its long history.
Under the Knights of St. John, the Palace was used as the official residence for the consecutive Grand Masters of the Order. The British colonials used the palace to house the Governor, where it was enriched with a number of architectural works following damages received during World War II. Following Malta’s Independence in 1964, the Palace became the seat of Malta’s first House of Representatives, thus continuing its legacy as a central part of Maltese politics. Today, the House of Representatives has been relocated to a new Parliament House built at the entrance of the capital. Nevertheless, the Palace still hosts the office of the President of the Republic of Malta.
Inside this magnificent structure lie four State Rooms. The Council Chamber is lavishly decorated with a collection of Gobelins tapestries, woven in France and given as a gift to the Spanish Grand Master Ramón Perellos y Roccaful. The tapestries are nearly 300 years old and showcase exotic hunting scenes of the Caribbean, South America, India and Africa. These tapestries are kept in pristine condition to this day. The State Dining Room is graced by a painting of Queen Elizabeth II and Presidential portraits of the Republic of Malta. The Hall of the Supreme Council of the Knights, which is also called the Throne Room, is adorned with a series of twelve fine frescoes by Mattia Perez d’Aleccio depicting events from the Great Siege of Malta in 1565. The Ambassador’s Hall or better known as the Red Room, exhibits portraits of Grandmasters and other governors, as well as a high fresco depicting historical events from the Order of St. John. Furthermore, the Grand Master welcomed important guests in this very State Room. In fact, foreign dignitaries are still greeted here by the Maltese President to this very day.
Being one of the first buildings in Valletta in 1571, the Palace holds one of the greatest armour and weapons arsenals in the world. The arsenal dates back to the Knights of St. John and it is still kept in its original state. The Palace Armoury was officially opened in 1860 and became Malta’s first public museum. It features the personal armour worn by the Grand Master La Valette, the remarkable damascened armour of Grand Master Alof de Wignacourt and a unique display of weapons used during the Great Siege of 1565 by the Ottoman Empire. It also holds authentic pieces of Spanish, French, Italian and German origin. The Armory is currently located inside two halls that used to hold the Grand Master’s stables.