Auberge de Castille: one of the finest architectural houses of the Knights

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Auberge de Castille is an auberge in Valletta, Malta. Auberge de Castille and Leon, located in Castille Place, is one of the finest architectural works in Malta, as shown by its spectacular façade which is finely proportioned and strictly symmetrical. It was originally built in the 1570s to house knights of the Order of Saint John from the langue of Castile, León and Portugal. The present building dates back to the 1740s, but it has been completely rebuilt because this site was badly damaged during World War II. Thankfully it was later carefully restored. This building is now the office of the Prime Minister.

The term Auberge refers to the Knights’ houses. During their first years in Malta, the Knights had to serve once a week in the existing hospitals and in return, they lived in their Auberge for free. The Auberges were organized into eight languages:

  • Castille and Leon,
  • Italy,
  • Aragon,
  • England,
  • German,
  • France,
  • Auvergne,
  • Provence.

The auberge is located in Castille Square, close to Saint James Cavalier, the Malta Stock Exchange and the Upper Barrakka Gardens. It is situated at the highest point of Valletta and overlooks Floriana and the Grand Harbour area.

Architecture of Auberge de Castille

Auberge de Castille is built in the Baroque style, and it is a two-storey building with a rectangular plan and a central courtyard. Its façade is divided into eleven bays defined by pilasters in the central bays or plain panelling in the outer bays. Ornate windows are set within recessed panels. The building has a continuous cornice, and its corners are rusticated.

The main entrance is approached by several steps, and the doorway is flanked by columns which support a trophy of arms and a bronze bust.  Just in front of the entrance are two historic canons, now used for decoration.

Auberge de Castille is linked to Auberge d’Italie across Merchants Street through a World War II-era underground air-raid shelter.

 

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