Gardens with rich vegetation surround San Anton Palace on all sides of which one, currently within the remit of the apposite central Government Department, has been open to the public since 1885. The gardens feature water fountains and exedrae strategically located at the intersection of geometrically planned walkways. Orange and citrus groves are prominent and it was the custom for this produce to be given as gifts to visiting dignitaries and personalities.
Sant’Anton Palace is witness to a checkered and continuous history that beyond the times of the Order of St John. During the Maltese uprising against the French in 1798, the palace was the headquarters of the Maltese National Assembly and later become the residence of the first British Civil Commissioner, Admiral Sir Alexander Ball (1757-1809) and continued to serve as residence to successive British Governors. During the British period, Sant’Anton palace also hosted prominent personalities including Queen Victoria’s son, Prince Alfred, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (1844 – 1900) whose daughter, also born at Sant’ Anton Palace, was christened Victoria Melita. Sant’ Anton Palace has also welcomed various British monarchs over time including Queen Elisabeth II who stayed at Sant’ Anton Palace in what became known as the Queen’s private apartments situated in one of the wings of the palace. Very many other dignitaries were hosted at Sant’ Anton over time. These include visiting heads of state, dignitaries and special guests from all over the world.
Sant’Anton Palace was designated as the official residence of the President of Malta when Malta became a Republic in December 1974.