Part of the restoration process focuses on the State Rooms of San Anton Palace. In 2015 restoration began on what is now known as the Music Room, which is regularly used to host concerts organised by the Office of the President. The offices which were previously located in the centre of the palace were moved to the ground floor, so that four rooms could be converted into a Library, a Billiards Room, a Ladies room, and a Grand Salon. For this part of the restoration project, detailed research was undertaken to find out how these rooms were set up in colonial times, so that the paint, fabric and furniture to be used would be identical to that period.
During a news conference held on 11 May 2016, during which journalists were given a tour of San Anton Palace, President Coleiro Preca, thanked all those involved in making this restoration project a reality, among whom were Keith Pillow and his team from DaaaHaus, who are taking care of the State Rooms, architect William Soler and his team from DeMicoli and Associates, who are in charge of the Multi-Purpose Hall project, Architect Joe Bondin and his team, and the employees of the Office of the President and the company ERL, who are overseeing other projects including the restoration of the kitchen, the offices of The President’s Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society, the Reception Area, the offices of The President’s Trust, the administrative offices and the meeting rooms.
The President also thanked Heritage Malta and the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage for their continuous support during the restoration process, Mr Christopher Hyland for his support with regards to the textiles used during restoration, and all the entities offering financial support.
Inauguration of Antoine de Paule Hall at San Anton Palace
Antoine de Paule Hall at San Anton Palace was inaugurated on 25 February 2017. The restoration of this hall is another phase in a series of extensive renovation being carried out at the Palace, following the inauguration of the Music Room, the Anton Buttigieg Library and the President’s Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society’s offices over the past two years.
During the official inauguration the President of Malta, Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, said “this is another moment where, as a Maltese citizen, I am proud of our heritage and also our talented people, who have given new life to this part of the majestic Palace, which can be used for today’s needs”.
The President said that San Anton Palace represents a valuable example of the cultural heritage of our islands and added that it is our responsibility to preserve this heritage for generations to come”. It is for this reason, that the Presidency is giving priority to a respectful restoration approach in several areas of San Anton Palace,” stated President Coleiro Preca.
The Palace was built by Fra Antoine de Paule, in 1620. The original building was used as the summer residence of de Paule. This part of the Palace is in fact still called the De Paule Suite, and the de Paule Hall which was recently inaugurated forms part of this building. When de Paule became Grand Master, he continued to expand San Anton Palace.
The President thanked all those involved in making this project a reality, including architects William Soler and Paul Borg from DeMicoli and Associates, the employees of the Office of the President, under the leadership of Mr. Alfred Debono, the contractors who worked on this project, and the MFSA, which is providing the funding for the restoration which is currently underway at San Anton Palace.
The restoration of the Palace is still ongoing, and currently, three rooms that were used as offices are being restored, so that the Palace will now have three new state rooms.
San Anton Palace is now an example of Water Sustainability
On the occasion of World Water Day, on 22 March 2017, representatives from the Office of the President of Malta, the Energy and Water Agency of Malta and the Global Water Partnership-Mediterranean (GWP-Med), signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the reinstatement of a reservoir for harvesting rainwater at San Anton Palace, within the framework of the Programme Alter Aqua. The ceremony took place at the Presidential Palace in Attard, adjacent to the gardens of San Anton where the water reservoir is found, in the presence of the partners of Alter Aqua, including General Soft Drinks Marketing Ltd., which represents the Coca-Cola system in Malta. This programme has been financially supported by The Coca-Cola Foundation since 2011.
The reservoir at San Anton Gardens was built by the Knights of Malta in 1600 AD and has a capacity of 1,800,000 litres. The reinstatement of the reservoir, under the technical supervision of the Energy and Water Agency and GWP-Med, is of historical, cultural, social and water management significance. The harvesting of rainwater today by means of a system which was built over 400 years ago shows the importance of the intrinsic value of water solutions to sustain life on the island. This water will be used to water the orange grove within the Palace and its gardens. The reservoir will have a social impact as the oranges cut from the grove are sold to help the Malta Community Chest Fund Foundation, a charitable foundation, which helps Maltese people who are in need of medical assistance, provides food for the poor and scholarships for students. The work will be completed by the end of summer 2017.
“Through Alter Aqua we managed to make a positive impact on the lives of 53,000 people on the Maltese Islands since we have collected and reused more than 16 million litres of water annually. Beyond infrastructural works, the Alter Aqua project has a special focus on schools and the organisation of targeted educational campaigns to raise awareness about the application of non-conventional water resources and the sustainable use of water. For this purpose, through the Alter Aqua project, more than 13,000 students have been educated on sustainable development in schools, while 1,228 teachers have been trained since 2011. If we inspire and teach the next generation about the responsible management of water resources, we will ensure a better future, which is the legacy of this project. We recognise that these impressive results came after the collective action and collaboration of the programme partners. I’m sure that we would not have succeeded if we did not have partners who share the same vision and values to build prosperous communities which are forward looking. We can do much more together than we could ever do alone”, said Maria Micallef, Chief Operating Officer, GSD Marketing Ltd.
The beauty of the San Anton Palace and its gardens have always attracted tourists and Maltese people. From now on, the Gardens will be a showcase of sustainable water practices in Malta. This will show the connection to the past, the evolution of water management practices, and the important benefits to the community.
“It is appropriate that the library within the State Residence is dedicated to ‘Melitensia’”
On 22 April 2017, the President of Malta Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, chaired a musico-literary evening in honour of former President, Anton Buttigieg.
During the evening, the custody of the Anton Buttigieg Library, which is part of the extensive restoration project in the same palace, was taken over by the Academy of the Maltese language (l-Akkademja tal-Malti) and the Malta Libraries, the entities that will be managing this library, which hosts a collection of some of the best works of Maltese authors and poets, and printed works by a number of Maltese publishers.
While addressing those present, President Coleiro Preca said that this was one of the best moments of his presidency, “because it is now, that the State Residence has a decent and elegant library, a library where works of Maltese authors and publishers can be found, a library named after the illustrious poet and former President, Anton Buttigieg.” This event is the start of a number of activities that the Office of the President, and The President’s Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society, will be organising on the occasion of World Book Day, which was established by UNESCO.
The activities will reach their climax on Monday, 24 April, when hundreds of children from different schools will be visiting San Anton Palace where they will have the opportunity to see the Anton Buttigieg Library, as well as the Little Stars Library, while they will also be given information about the Library, Balzmet ir-Ruħ, located in the office which the Malta Community Chest Fund Foundation has in the Sir Anthony Mamo Oncology Centre.
The President thanked the Academy of the Maltese language and the Malta Libraries, which as the custodians of the Anton Buttigieg Library are already doing sterling work, and also thanked the various associations and organisations working to keep the Maltese language alive because the “Maltese language is a unique testimony of our identity.” She also thanked Ms Matilde Cordina, who coordinated the project. The attendees during this musico-literary evening included Maestro Dominic Galea, the singer Doreen Galea, as well as relatives of the former President, Anton Buttigieg. After the signing ceremony, the President of Malta was presented with a number of books written by Anton Buttigieg, as well as a selection of books from Kite Group.
Latest restorations in order to have 3 new state rooms in San Anton Palace