Valletta
Secret history of: the Mediterranean Conference Centre
One of Malta’s most popular venues for performances, events and large-scale conferences, the Mediterranean Conference Centre has far more to its history than meets the eye.

Martina Said

‘The Holy Infirmary of the Knights of St John to The Mediterranean Congress Centre at Valletta’ by Paul Cassar

The magnificent Mediterranean Conference Centre (MCC) is one of Valletta’s most remarkable structures, works on which began in the 16th century during the reign of Grand Master Jean de la Cassiere, as an infirmary for the knights of the Order of St John.

One of the building’s main attractions is a hall measuring 155 metres in length, referred to as the ‘Great Ward’. Known as the Sacra Infermeria, the MCC was considered to be one of the best hospitals in Europe at the time, capable of accommodating around 900 patients. Today, this same hall is used as an extensive exhibition or event space.

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Under the reign of Grand Master Nicholas Cotoner, the School of Anatomy and Surgery was established in the infirmary, and was the early precursor of the Medical School now at the University of Malta in Msida. As with the rest of the islands, the Sacra Infermeria underwent various changes while in the hands of different rulers. When the Knights left the island and the French took over, a number of structural changes were implemented in order to improve the hospital’s sanitation.

‘The Holy Infirmary of the Knights of St John to The Mediterranean Congress Centre at Valletta’ by Paul Cassar

Between 1800 and 1918, the hospital was used by British military forces as a station hospital, particularly suitable due to its proximity to the Grand Harbour, where the sick and wounded were brought in from their ships. It was after the end of WWI that the Sacra Infermeria stopped being used as a hospital, and instead housed the Police Headquarters until the start of WWII, during which time the building sustained disastrous damage.

viewingmalta.com

Gradually and many years later, the old hospital was reconstructed and restored, and inaugurated as the Mediterranean Conference Centre in 1979, as it is known today. Its various halls, stages, equipment and facilities have made it a top venue for local and international events, surrounded by remarkable views of the Grand Harbour within a truly historic setting.

Curious? Visit the MCC at Triq l-Isptar, Valletta to experience this unique building for yourself!

24th December 2020


Martina  Said
Written by
Martina Said
A writer and editor, Martina has an affinity for Maltese things, particularly summer time on the island, adventurous country walks and fresh local cuisine.

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