Palaces

Main Gate (facing landfront/inwards)
Landfront

The monumental entrance to Mdina reflects the new ideas and baroque style of the 18th century. After the devastating earthquake of 1693, Mdina suffered most, and during the magistracy of Grand Master Antonio Manoel de Vilhena a rebuilding programme was initiated. To the right hand side of the present entrance, the medieval blocked gate is still noticeable. The new entrance reflected the baroque age, with its monumental structure as well as the various decorations. At the entrance to the stone bridge, stand two stone plinths bearing a trophy of arms and the lion symbolising the coat of arms of the Grand Master. The stone bridge leads to the monumental entrance. On each side of the entrance there are two more plinths with two stone lions, one holding the coat-of-arms of the municipality of Mdina, and the other one holding those of the Grand Master. An elaborate trophy of arms is set around the family armorial shield of Grand Master Vilhena, and a marble inscription commemorating the event of its inauguration in 1724. 

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Inwards
On entering the main gate of Mdina, one still notices a number of sculptural details, reflecting the history of the island and the city in particular. Above the small alcove on the doorway in relief one can see a scene showing the outline of the city of Mdina. This relief commemorates the legend that during the piratical siege of 1429, St Paul was seen descending from heaven to help in the defence of the city. More stone decorations above the main alcove of the entrance are representing St Paul in the middle, St Publius on the left-hand side and St Agatha on the right, the three patron saints of Malta. The armorial bearings of the Inguanez family and an inscription on a marble tablet, extols the loyalty of the noble family to the King of Aragon.

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Vilhena Palace (St Publius Square)
On entering the main gate of Mdina, one notices the impressive façade of Vilhena Palace. After the earthquake of 1693, a lot of rebuilding was carried out. One of the new additions was the Magisterial Palace, designed by Charles Francois Mondion, during the magistracy of Grand Master Antonio Manoel de Vilhena. The palace was built in the 18th century baroque style, much influenced by the French baroque. The Maltese Petruzzo Debono was responsible for the building of the palace. Behind the screen there is a well-proportioned courtyard, and a magnificent faça​de. The coat-of-arms and bust of the Grand Master, surrounded by stone decorations can be seen above the main door. The two sides fronting the courtyard offer a theatre-like scenario. This is one of the most impressive baroque buildings of the 18th century. Today it is the National Museum of Natural History.

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Archbishop's Palace (Archbishop's Square)
On the side of the Metropolitan Cathedral, there is a building which is the official residence of the Archbishop of Malta. This building was planned by Lorenzo Gafà, although the building was postponed until the Cathedral was completed. Started in 1718 it took two years to be completed. The building gives the impression of an important structure, while not trying to compete with the adjoining Cathedral. While the ground floor rooms are small and undecorated, the upper level is imposing. Due to its location, close to the Cathedral and the bastions, the building had certain restrictions. It is still considered as an elegant building of the early 18th century.

Palazzo Falson (Mesquita Street)

Set within the medieval building, known as Palazzo Falson, there is a unique collection of artefacts, set within a number of rooms, all around a central courtyard. The ground floor rooms are typical of the medieval times, being the kitchen, storage rooms and stables. The first floor was the living quarters, and today holding a number of artistic pieces, collected through the years by a previous owner and resident of the palace, Olof Gollcher. The exhibits are varied, with paintings dating to the 18th century, as well as furniture pieces and silverware. The fireplace in the kitchen is decorated with a number of tiles, showing 18th century costumes. In one of the rooms there is a small collection of armour. While in another room there is a well-stocked library, with some rare first editions.​


Santa Sofia Palace (St Sophia Street)
The present palazzo is a two-storey building, and it straddles another street as well. The original structure consisted of just the ground floor. The date 1233 is still visible on the lintel of one of the windows, thus considered as one of the oldest still standing buildings in Malta. The style is typical of the Gothic Chiaramonte, with pointed arches and the drip moulds above the doorways. An interesting feature is the passageway that connects the two sides of the building over a public road. This is a typical medieval arrangement. Separating the ground floor from the first floor is a decorated string course. Part of the decoration of the façade of the Palazzo are the armorial shield of the Santa Sofia family.​​

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​Falca Palace
One of the 18th century palaces located in Mdina is Palazzo Falca. Its importance is much more connected with the various owners of the Palace rather than for its architectural features. Located just off the main square of the Cathedral, it points to the important location of the palace within the baroque framework of 18th century Mdina. It has a typical impressive doorway, surmounted by an open balcony. By the 19th century the building was acquired by Giovanni Parisio Moscati who later donated the building to the Jesuits, to be used as a school. Eventually, the same building passed on to the Sisters of St Dorothy, where a girls’ boarding school was opened. The building is not used as a school anymore but Sisters of St Dorothy reside there. 

Moscati-Parision Palace
One of the most outstanding patrician houses in Mdina is found overlooking a small and discreet piazza. The other buildings in the same square continue to offer a well-balanced area. Facing this palace there is the Municipality Law Courts and, on the side, there is the herald’s loggia. The latter connects the two buildings. The architect of this palace is unknown, but the building has been described as a well-balanced and imposing building. Due to the restrictions of the site, the palace is elongated. This was the Mdina residence of the Moscati-Parisio family, one of the most influential in the social, economical and political life of the islands during the 18th and 19th centuries. The building was used for some time by a religious order at present it has been turned into a boutique noble hotel. ​

Law Courts of the Municipality
With the reconstruction of the entrance area of Mdina, Charles Francois Mondion, the French engineer, conceived the idea of having the Law Courts of the Municipality erected behind the Magisterial Palace, while making use of the same area where the former building was located. The building is interesting. Facing the small piazza, one notices a well-balanced façade, with an imposing large doorway. Above the doorway there is an open balcony, flanking the sides of the entrance to the balcony there are two figures representing Mercy and Justice. The whole building is crowned with an ornate trophy of arms and a number of other decorations break the skyline. Presently, the building is used by the Mdina Local Council. 

Herald's Loggia
The small square that fronts the Municipal Law Courts has also the herald’s loggia. This is a three-arched loggia, and through the interventions of Francois Mondion, the building was integrated with the adjoining Law Courts. Above the three arches at ground level, there is an open balcony, with balustrades, decorating the boundary wall. The armorial shield that used to decorate the façade has been defaced. The place was used by the town crier who would pass through a door which connects the Municipal Palace with this loggia. From there he would read the latest rules, regulations and laws that the Municipality would have issued. This information was related to financial aspects, health regulations, custom duties and the like.​

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