Palazzo Parisio in Valletta
I’m sure you’re all very familiar with Palazzo Parisio in Naxxar, but did you know that there is a palace with the same name in Malta’s capital city? Palazzo Parisio in Valletta currently houses the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and it’s not open to the general public. It opens its doors once a year for Notte Bianca.
If it wasn’t for the pandemic, Malta’s biggest annual arts and culture festival would had happened last Saturday 3rd October. For the safety of everyone it did not. However I was lucky enough to visit Palazzo Parisio in Valletta in 2019 and have been saving these photos for you the past year! Want to have a look inside? Let’s go!
This building was erected in Strata San Giacomo, Valletta, nowadays known as Merchants Street. Apart from its aesthetical value, this building has great historical significance.
The Origins of Palazzo Parisio
Originally this building consisted of two separate houses. On July 8, 1717, Donna Maria Sciberras exchanged two properties she owned in Strada Reale (Republic Street) with these two buildings. They were inherited by Donna Maria’s son, Monsignor Domenico Sciberass, who at that time the conventual chaplain of the Order as well as the auditor of Grand Master Zondadari.
Around 1740 Monsignor Sciberras demolished these two houses and built the Palace that stands there today on the simple and more elegant plans of Architect Peruzzi. This property was eventually inherited by Donna Antonia Moscati.
How did Palazzo Parisio get its name?
Whilst the Moscati family got richer and richer and was well renowned within the circles of Maltese aristocracy, in Reggio Calabria the situation was rather different for the Parisio family. Due to the desperate financial situation of the Parisios, Chevalier Don Domenico Parisio started dating Donna Moscati. After two years of courtship, the couple got married and hence the palace came to be known as Palazzo Parisio.
Napoleon Bonaparte’s Residence
Palazzo Parisio in Valletta was indeed a residence of Napoleon Bonaparte. It wasn’t for very long though. On 13th June 1798 Napoleon Bonaparte landed in Malta and took residence at the Palazzo. His stay at the Palazzo lasted seven days prior to embarking for his Egyptian campaign.
The Maltese General Post Office
After a very sad matrimonial life, Donna Moscati married Sir Giuseppe Maria de Piro and the property was passed on to the De Piro family. By 1880, though inheritance, the property was jointly owned by 100 members of the same family!
This situation inevitably let to disagreements and general neglect of the Palace. Luckily the British Government agreed to exchange this building with another property hence Palazzo Parisio became the estate of the Government of Malta. After a major renovation, Palazo Parision became the Maltese General Post Office in May 1886.
This room, which now serves as the office of Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was Napoleon Bonaparte’s bedroom for a week in 1798.
World War I & World War II
After World War I, a third floor was added to take the Audit Office. During Wolrd War II, this building was hit and partially destroyed during an air raid. In the post-war years, it housed the Ministry for Postal Services and Agriculture until October 1973.
Dominic Mintoff was a Maltese Socialist politician, leader of the Labour Party from 1949 to 1984, the 8th Prime Minister of Malta from 1955 to 1958 and from 1971 to 1981 as Minister of Foreign Affairs. His foreign policy could be described as serving two purposes: helping establish peace in the Mediterranean and other parts of the world, and to strengthen the livelihood of the Maltese.
As you might have noticed already a hall in Palazzo Parisio was named after him in his honor.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
In October 1973 this building was earmarked for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as we know it nowadays.
Palazzo Parisio is situated right behind Auberge de Castille, which currently houses the Office of the Prime Minister.
The building has been been restored numerous times. Some external restoration works were done in 2003, in 2014 the building was considered unsafe by appointed architects and required refurbishment. From what I’ve seen in October 2019 everything was very nicely done.
At this point we’re slowly coming to the end of our virtual tour throughout Pallazzo Parisio in Valletta. However before we do so, I would like you to take a moment and have a good look at the three pictures below. I instantly fall in love with the shape of that staircase and the ceiling with wooden beams.
None of my photo blogs would be complete without a GoogleMap marking the exact location for easier orientation. So for those of you haven’t visited yet, make a note for next year’s edition of Notte Bianca.