San Anton Palace was built between 1623-1636 as a summer residence for the Grand Master of the Order of St John, Antoine de Paule. It is believed that de Paule owned an earlier villa and enlarged it after he became Grand Master. During the French occupation (1798-1800) this palace served as a meeting place for the Maltese insurgents who rose up against the French. After 1800 San Anton became the Governor’s residence during the British rule and since Malta became a Republic in 1974 served as the President’s official residence.
The interior of the Palace consists of spacious halls luxuriously decorated with paintings and fine arts. Subsequent Grand Masters, especially de Vilhena and de Rohan, and British governors made several changes to the original layout of the palace. For instance, de Vilhena built a small chapel (dedicated to Our Lady of Pilar) and the arcaded verandah was built during the British period.
The Palace is surrounded by private and public gardens. The gardens, were opened to the public in 1882 and are well planned and embellished by walkways, ornamental ponds, fountains sculptures and an aviary. The gardens also hold a variety of tree and plant species from around the world, some planted by visiting heads of state. Moreover, some of the specimens are over three centuries old and are of significant value in their own right.
San Anton Place and Gardens at Attard were scheduled by Mepa as a Grade 1 national monument as per Government Notice number 1082/09 in the Government Gazette dated December 22, 2009.