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Valletta’s 17th Century Main Guard Building To Undergo Restoration Work

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An iconic building in the heart of Valletta is set to be restored.

The landmark building in St. George’s Square – opposite the Grand Master’s Palace – known as the Main Guard will undergo restoration work after the Planning Commission granted development permission for the works to go ahead.

The restoration works will include stone repair and replacements, removing of detached plaster and loose material, cleaning of masonry and restoration of timber aperture.

An internally vertical access point will also be created.

Believed to be have been built at the beginning of the 17th century by Grand Master Alof de Wignacourt, this Valletta building served as quarters for the guards of the palace, just across the square. This function was retained for more than 350 years, until the early 1970s. The building consists of a single floor on the front part and three floors on the rear onto Triq id-Dejqa owing to the differences in level between the streets.

When the Main Guard started being used by the British in 1814, the building underwent some changes including the addition on its frontage of the neoclassical portico and the converting of the ground floor into an Officers’ Mess.

The Officers’ Mess has become a remarkable attraction for the wall paintings that were effected by various officers who formed part of the regiments over the course of 150 years. These representations consist of regiment badges, caricatures, historical episodes, and other related subjects

The wall paintings with their complex stratigraphy and interventions make the building a unique site not only valued for their artistic qualities but are themselves witness of the rich physical history that the past Officers’ Mess has gone through along the years.

The portico, on the other hand, is crowned by a stone sculpture of the British Royal Coat of Arms with lion and unicorn supporters. Below these carvings is an inscription in Latin recording Malta’s request to become a British colony.

Due to its historical and architectural importance, the Planning Authority had scheduled the Main Guard building as Grade 1 in March 2008.

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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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