Mellieha’s iconic Selmun Palace is slowly falling apart and Malta’s government is doing nothing to save it from deterioration.
Almost nine years after its closure, the building’s doors remain shut to the public with government’s repeated promises failing to materialise.
Originally built in the by the Monte della Redenzione degli Schiavi, the palace was covered into a hotel by Selmun Palace Hotel Company Ltd, a subsidiary of Air Malta. It closed in 2011 as part of a restructuring plan at Air Malta, who continues to struggle financially.
Still, the Baroque building, which stands proudly above the surrounding countryside, was scheduled as a Grade 1 national monument in 2012. However, nothing has happened since.
In 2014, then-Prime Minister Joseph Muscat claimed that informal talks between Air Malta and the Planning Authority had kicked off over possible development on the site, with the building of a new wing included in proposals.
Nothing happened. Then in May 2018, then-Finance Minister Edward Scicluna revealed that plans were currently being drawn up for the sale of the Selmun Palace. He insisted that the area was under constant surveillance by security guards and that the ministry also sent staff to carry out inspections.
Government officials at the time said that there would be an open process where people can apply and submit an offer for the beautiful yet derelict Palace.
Environmentalists weren’t too happy with the Palace being up for sale, seeing it as just another part of the Maltese identity that is being sold for profit.
Robert Cutajar, the PN whip and former Mayor of the area, has raised concerns that the building was being allowed to deteriorate even though it could be to the benefit of the public and the country’s overall touristic product, telling Lovin Malta:
“Over the last seven years, I have made several requests in parliament for this historic building that is part of Maltese heritage no longer be allowed to deteriorate. I’ve asked for it to be returned to the public so it can be enjoyed by all and improve our touristic product. The Selmun and L-Imgiebah, which is a Natura 2000 site, has potential that we are not tapping into.”
“It’s strange how the Selmun Hotel has been abandoned for years despite that a process to bring it back to life had started years ago. There are doubts as to why the government has done nothing.”
With Malta’s public spaces on short supply with developers and lobby groups keen to pounce on the country’s open spaces, questions must be asked when the government is going to safeguard parts of the nation’s heritage and create a space that’s open for all.
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