The site of this Palace was formerly occupied by a small hunting lodge built by Grandmaster Jean de la Valette-Parisot between 1557 and 1568. The present structure was erected by Grandmaster Hughues Loubenx de Verdalle in 1586. The ‘Boschetto' area was chosen for the lushness of its vegetation, an ideal foraging ground for the wild game introduced by the Order. The rivulet in the underlying valley provided a steady source of water throughout most of the year thus providing the much needed nourishment for the flora and fauna to flourish. Architect Gerolamo Cassar, the Order's Maltese architect during Grand Master Verdalle's reign (1582-1595) planned a fortified structure to provide a minimal form of defence against the Turkish razzias who struck Malta from time to time. The most prominent among the numerous features incorporated in its design was the dry ditch surrounding the Palace. The ashlar rock excavated from the ditch was used for its construction.
Grandmaster Jean de Lascaris-Castellar (1636-1657) and later Grandmaster Manoel de Vilhena (1722-1736) contributed most to its embellishment. Verdala Palace was used as a military prison in 1800 for Napoleon's soldiers who had surrendered to the Anglo-Maltese forces. For some time the building also served as a silk factory after which it was abandoned and fell into disrepair. Governor Sir Frederick Ponsonby (1827-1836) was the first to attempt to repair the building but it was in Governor Sir William Reid's (1851-1858) time that the Palace was restored to its former glory.
Verdala Palace then became the Governor's country residence and further improvements were made by subsequent governors. In 1939, at the beginning of hostilities which led to the Second World War, Verdala Palace was used as a repository for the National Musuem of Arts.
In 1982 Verdala Palace started to accommodate visiting Heads of State. A new electricity supply system was installed, the building's external walls were re-pointed and facilities were improved. In 1987 Acting-President Paul Xuereb adopted Verdala Palace as his official residence.
The Palace hosted many distinguished dignitaries 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.
Verdala Palace is now the official summer residence of the President of Malta. In the recent past, fund raising activities, including the annual August Moon Ball and concerts in aid of the Malta Community Chest Fund, were held at the Palace.
Hours: Open to the public on special occasions only.
Contacts: 356 21221221