The imposing Verdala Palace, dominating its surrounding countryside, was built in 1586 by Grand Master Hughues Loubenx de Verdale (1582 – 1595). The Maltese architect, Gerolamo Cassar designed the plan for this quadrangular structure with four turrets, one at each corner.
Originally the palace consisted only of the basement and ground floor, however in the 1720s, it was enlarged during the reign of Grand Master Manoel de Vilhena, as clearly claimed by the coat-of-arms situated at the upper floor facade and the more elaborate baroque windows compared to the ground floor windows.
The castle is surrounded by a dry ditch and originally was accessible through a drawbridge instead of the main staircase present today, which was added during the reign of Grand Master Jean de Lascaris-Castellar (1636-1657).
The original chapel still stands today and is situated at the right-hand side of the buildings surrounding the yard, opposite of the palace. It consists of a plain barrel-vaulted chamber. This chapel was substituted by a later one built by Grand Master Nicholas Cottoner as shown by the coat-of-arms embellishing its facade, illustrating the cotton plant and the cross of the Order of St John. The stables and servitude rooms are located in the afore-mentioned buildings surrounding the yard.
Above the main doorway of the palace, there is the coat-of-arms of Grand Master Verdale illustrating the wolf and the cross of the Knights of the Order of St John. Underneath the coat-of-arms there is a Latin inscription, “MONTI VERDALAE ROS ET PLUVIA”, Mount Verdala moisture and rain.
The palace is nowadays used as the official summer residence of the President of Malta. In the 1980s it was used as the official Government guest house for visiting Heads of State.
At the beginning of the 20th century the palace saw many important visitors including King George V and Queen Mary in 1912, Prince Albert in 1913 and later King George VI in April 1943, King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra, Empress Marie Feodorovna of Russia in 1909 and 1919, Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1904, Colonel Muammar Al Gaddafi, Leader of the First September Revolution of the Libyan Arab Jamahriya, Josip Broz Tito, Former President of Yugoslavia, Nicolae Andruta Ceausescu, Former President of Romania and Giovanni Leone,Former President of Italy.1
Author: Melanie Farrugia