Culture
Come and see! Valletta’s Main Guard opens its doors to the public for ONE weekend
Between 1814 and 1972 more than 300 paintings were drawn over the walls of the Officers’ Mess.

Benjamin Abela

Valletta’s chock-full of remnants of Malta’s culturally rich past – although many of these often go under our radar.

Despite its imposing nature, standing tall right opposite the Grand Master’s Palace, the Main Guard is one of such remnants.

Constructed in the late 16th century during the reign of Grand Master Alof de Wignacourt, the Main Guard Building has a wealth of stories to tell, and you can hear some of them at the open weekend organised by Heritage Malta.

But before we get into all that, here’s some background into this underrated gem.

The Main Guard building was converted into a Corpo di Guardia or gatehouse in 1604. Fast forward two centuries, to 1814, and the building was taken over and slightly amended by the British.

Amongst other things, the portico and the room on the first floor were converted to an Officers’ Mess, that is, an area where British soldiers who guarded the palace would eat and rest whilst waiting for their next shift to start.

It just so happens that one of the soldiers’ past times was to paint pictures…

In fact, between 1814 and 1972 more than 300 paintings were drawn over the walls of the Officers’ Mess, each expressing an emotion, memory, or event. No wonder this area was often referred to as an ‘art gallery’ of sorts.

These paintings, together with the structure’s architectural value are two of the main reasons why the Main Guard is a very unique site worthy of conservation.

Throughout the past couple of months, Heritage Malta has been carrying out conservation and restoration works at this very location.

Conservators and restorers have been working keenly on the murals in the Officers’ Mess, guided by the rigorous scientific and historical research conducted on each of these works.

The paintings’ techniques were studied, and a scientific investigation revealed previous restoration interventions. Needless to say, every intervention varied from one painting to another so that every artefact is given the best possible treatment.

Works on the Officers’ Mess paintings have now been finalised and you can get a glimpse of Heritage Malta’s pristine work this very weekend!

That’s right – Heritage Malta is holding an open weekend at the Main Guard on Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24th October for free.

The site will be open to the public on Saturday from 11am to 10pm and on Sunday from 10am to 4pm. All attendees must wear a face mask and respect social distancing measures.

18th October 2021


Benjamin  Abela
Written by
Benjamin Abela
Benjamin is a Writer at Content House Group. With his background in journalism, marketing, and the arts, Benjamin enjoys finding the human aspect to any story he gets a hold of. When he's not too busy writing his next article, you could probably find him playing with his cats or performing on a stage.

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