San Anton Palace

Originally this Palace was built as a summer residence by the Knight Fra Antoine De Paul at the beginning of the 17th century. When he became the 13th Grand Master of Malta in 1623, he added to the original building and enlarged the gardens around the palace. The English aslo enlarged it when it was used by the Governors of Malta. Further structural alterations have been made, since it has been used as the residence of the President of the Republic of Malta.

On looking at this palace one can note that it reflects the life that the Knights of St. John where used to, mainly De Paul who was extremely rich. From the list of employees in this palace, it compares favourably with the best summer palaces of European rulers. Its grandeur is also proof that it was built during a period when the Barrock had not yet influenced Maltese architecture, although it has a certain elegance to it.

Grand Master De Paul was greatly loved by the Maltese because he was kind hearted. The Maltese called him de Pawla and when he decided to build a new village just outside Vittoriosa, it was called Casal Pawla. However, de Paul was not popular with the Knights as he was considered a very controversial Grand Master and some knights even worked against him. He was in fact accused of bribery to become Grand Master. Many knights also criticised his friendship with a lady who occupied a villa in the vicinty of San Anton Palace. As a member of a religious order its members were bound with the vow of chastity, and this friendship was considered scandalous. Others even maintined that during the rule of de Paul he followed the advice of his lady friend, and thus his leadership was infuenced by this lady’s personal life.