The Gran Master’s Palace is finally able to reopen its doors to the public after years of extensive restoration work. 

The government said in a statement on Friday that in total the work had cost €40 million, with almost half (€18 million) of that sum co-financed by the European Union through the Regional Development Fund. 

The largest palace in Valletta served as the seat of Malta’s Parliament from 1921 to 2015, and restoration work included reshaping the building to the form that it took before this period. 

What was once the parliament chamber was reinstated to its original form as the palace Armoury while what was once the Speaker’s office has been restored as the Uccelliera. 

A visitor’s centre has been added in the area known as Palazzo del Monte, with extensive work also carried out in the Orangere, the State Halls and the courtyards. 

In an opening ceremony at the palace on Friday evening, President George Vella said he didn’t regret having to move his office to San Anton from the palace, which serves as the official set of the President’s Office. 

“Looking back, I do not regret the sacrifice that my staff and I had to make because over time I recognised the urgency for the restoration of this jewel that had significant damages,” he said. 

Photo: DOIPhoto: DOI

Prime Minister Robert Abela said that the government was eager to invest in preserving the palace for future generations and that the administration is able to divert funds into such projects because of wise economic management.

“The economic results we achieve give us the power so that as a country we have the necessary resources to invest in all areas,” he said. 

Abela added that such investments prepare for the future without neglecting the protection of our national identity. 

“Because we are proud to be Maltese. Because we are grateful for what our ancestors did, and we must protect it. Because we want to give a strong present and we want future generations to be proud of what they find. Above all, because we want to design a beautiful future.”

Culture Minister Owen Bonnici noted that the palace was Heritage Malta's most visited site before it was closed for renovations, welcoming around 250,000 visitors a year. 

He described the restoration works as the most ambitious cultural project in Malta's modern history. 

"It now offers visitors an altogether different experience to what we had previously, and we're eager to welcome even more people to see the palace in the coming years," Bonnici said.

Minister for European Funds Chirs Fearne said that the palace has an important place in Maltese history and it is integral that the Maltese people continue to uphold the values of democracy and solidarity that the building inspires. 

The restoration didn’t come without its fair share of surprises over the years. 

In July 2022, workers stumbled upon a nymphaeum that once formed part of the orange garden and in September of that same year, restorers uncovered a series of fresco paintings in a bedroom used by Grandmasters in the summer months. 

The restoration is set to allow visitors to view areas of the palace that have never been publicly accessible before. 

And it seems that the public has worked up an appetite for visiting the palace after a long separation, after a special open day in December last year attracted crowds of people, with the line for entry wrapping all the way around the corner of the building. 

The Grandmaster's Palace will now be open every day between 9 am and 5 pm.

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