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Old School Brothel? Żurrieq’s Bubaqra Tower Was A Meeting Place For Knights Of St John And Their Lady Friends Back In The Day

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Knights of St John dashing off under cover of darkness to a hidden tower to meet their ladies of the night – welcome to Bubaqra Tower.

You may have passed by the relatively unnoticeable yet charming little tower in the quiet backroads of Żurrieq when passing through the southern locality, but a look into the building’s history reveals a lot more than one might expect.

“Built as a country retreat in the late 16th century, the Bubaqra Tower was reportedly used as an illicit meeting place between members of the Order of St. John who were bound by vows of celibacy and… young females!” the cultural account Kappa Vision said as it shared an image of the building.

“Although the Knights of St. John are renowned for the brave and honourable deeds they performed during the Great Siege of 1565, and for the buildings and monuments they erected, in the 16th and 17th century, regardless of their vow of chastity, they frequented prostitutes and kept mistresses,” the page explained.

“During this period, it was common not only for the Knights to have mistresses, illegitimate children, or both, but also for priests and bishops to have secret relationships.”

“Notably, the parish priest of the village of Żurrieq himself was known to organise meetings against payment between young mistresses and their knightly suitors in the whereabouts of the Bubaqra Tower,” they pointed out.

The Bubaqra Tower, formerly known as Saliba Tower, is now a privately-owned fortified country house.

Built in 1579 as the private home of Conventual Chaplin of the Order of the Order of St. John, Don Matteolo Pisani, a priest named Matthew Pisani was commissioned to build it.

Surrounded by citrus trees, it was fortified in the 16th century since it was considered too dangerous to live too far away from a defensive structure during that time, with a constant threat from the Ottomans looming over the island.

It’s been restored and modified several times in the subsequent centuries.

Over the years, it passed through a number of high profile owners, including such names as the Fry family, who owned a major chocolate factory in England, and entered into royal notoriety when it was revealed that Lord Snowden, Princess Margaret’s then-husband, had fathered a child following a love affair with both the mother and the father. (Check out Netflix series The Crown season 2 for more details).

The daughter is still the current owner.

Square in shape, with four distinctive corner turrets, the entrance features an inscription above it calling for God to give relief from the enemy.

Though it was never meant for defensive use, it became part of Malta’s defence system, most notably in WW2. After 1945, the tower was returned to its owner.

From that day onwards, Bubaqra Tower and its gardens were restored, and the place was turned into a family retreat.

Cover photo credit: Continentaleurope

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Johnathan is interested in the weird, wonderful, and sometimes dark realities late capitalist society forces upon us all. He also likes food and music. Follow him at @supreofficialmt on Instagram, and send him news, food and music stories at [email protected]

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