The Auberge de Castille is the grandiose building standing at the highest peak in Valletta. It’s the current official seat of the Prime Minister. Today, we list down the facts and the secrets of this iconic building.
It's located near St, James Cavalier, The Malta Exchange, and the upper Barrakka Gardens. The building is in the highest spot of Valletta and overlooks Floriana and the Grand Harbour.
The Building and the Knights and of St John
The Auberge de Castille originally housed the Knight of St. John. This, however, wasn’t the first auberge for the Castille knights as there was a wooden one in Birgu. In 1569, the Knights decided they wanted another auberge in Valletta, but still, it wasn’t the one that stands tall today. This auberge was in St. Paul’s Street. The older auberge served from 1571 to 1573 but it wasn’t big enough to house all the knights so, they decided they needed a bigger one which would become the Auberge de Castille we see standing today.
One can't help stopping and admire it or take a picture. The Auberge de Castille was designed by Girolamo Cassar, who designed the Grandmaster's palace. As well as the Co-Cathedral of St John and Verdala Palace in Buskett to name a few of his notable masterpieces. He was a student of Francesco Laparelli.
Later, this building was re-constructed by another architect Andrea Belli between 1741 and 1745, as the Knights wanted to change the building and give it a more flamboyant Baroque feel. In 1791, the main doorway and the staircase were widened.
When Malta was under the British colony, The Auberge was bombed and the right-hand side was severely damaged but it was restored after the war. In 1972, it became the official seat of the Prime Minister. The building had work done in 2015 where the stone was crumbled.
The Hidden Passages
Unfortunately; it is not open for the public apart from special occasions such as Notte Bianca happening in October. So, if you want to explore this grand building and see the tunnels and artwork, you must be lucky enough to be here at the right time. We have been inside the Auberge and walked through the tunnels and it is one not to be missed.
The Eight Auberges
Auberge D’Allemagne was demolished to make room for the Anglican Cathedral of St Paul.
Auberge D’Auvergne was demolished during the war, and it has now been replaced by the Law Courts.
Auberge de France was also demolished during the war, and it has now been replaced by the Worker’s Memorial Building.
Auberge de Castille et Leon, by far the most magnificent of the eight, today houses the Office of the Prime Minister.
Auberge D’Aragon, just opposite the former Auberge D’Allemagne, today houses the Ministry for Home Affairs.
Auberge D’Italie today houses the Malta Tourism Authority, having housed the Law Courts in former times.
Auberge De Provence today houses the National Museums of Archaeology.
Auberge de Bavière et Angleterre today houses the main offices of the GPD, having been a Primary School in former times.