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Chapel of San Anton Palace

Probably the best known of the Islands’ gardens, San Anton gardens was laid out by Grand Master Antoine de Paule as grounds to his summer residence, San Anton Palace.

The Chapel

In the palace a little chapel can be found. It is dedicated to the Madonna del Pilar and its vault is decorated with the coats-of-arms of Grandmasters Antoine Manoel de Vilhena, Manoel Pinto de Fonseca and Emanuel de Rohan-Polduc. Stylistically, the chapel is similar to the contemporary churches of the first half of the 17th century to be found in towns and villages. It consists of a rectangular barrel-vaulted nave with arched ribs which divide the ceiling into six bays. The altar is set in a deep chancel separated from the nave by two pilasters which carry the last arched rib of the vault.


From 1802 until 1964, San Anton Palace was the official residence of the British Governor, after which it remained a state building and is now the residence of the Maltese President. Various heads of state have visited the gardens over the years and numerous plaques mark their ceremonial tree planting.
The garden is a botanical delight with mature trees, old stone urns, fountains, ponds and formal flower beds. The garden is formal with rustic touches and holds a wide variety of plants and flowers, such as Jacaranda trees, Norfolk Pines, Bougainvillea and roses.
Nowadays, the garden is the Annual Horticultural Show venue and during summer, the spacious central court becomes an open-air theatre for drama and musical performances.

Attard

Attard is one of the so-called Three Villages, along with neighbouring Lija and Balzan. Many wealth families built summer residences here in the early years of the 20th century, and the Three Villages are still considered an exclusive urban area. Attard lies almost halfway between Malta's medieval capital Mdina and the Knights' `new' capital Valletta. Its position meant the village was always the centre of transport and communication projects between the two. First was the Wignacourt acquaduct, completed in 1615, built to solve the problems of Valletta's drinking water supply. In the late 19th century came the railway, a service which lasted only until the 1930s. Attard today is still characterised by large villas and gardens, the most impressive of which is San Anton Palace built by Grand Master Antoine de Paule in the late 16th century. It is now the official residence of the President of Malta and is used for state functions. The gardens, open to the public, are a baroque masterpiece and oasis of green and calm. The village has many architectural gems, but the highlight is the Parish Church of St Mary (1616) designed by Maltese architect Tumas Dingli. It is regarded as the best Renaissance monument on the Islands. Near Attard is the Ta' Qali Crafts Village, on the old wartime airfield, and the National Stadium. (Source: visitmalta)

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Additional Photos by George Rumpler (Budapestman) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 8900 W: 3 N: 20435] (82620)
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