The stuff of legend…The Inquisitor’s Palace, Vittoriosa

The stuff of legend…The Inquisitor’s Palace, Vittoriosa

Half a millennium later, the notorious Inquisitor’s Palace, at the heart of one of Malta’s oldest cities, Vittoriosa, still stands impressively, guarding long lost secrets of our history. With its imposing façade and achingly beautiful architecture, its’ tales are still legendary, lending an aura of mystery to the place. According to lore, whoever passed through its threshold was sworn to secrecy, never to speak again of what was seen or heard, fervently fuelling the imagination of the then illiterate and God-fearing masses, at a time when superstition was rife.

 

Gory tales of unspeakable happenings at the Palace have been passed on from one generation to the next and have still managed to survive today. The notorious ‘knife-pit’ (bir tas-skieken) still instils terror in our collective psyche – a pit with blades protruding from its circular wall used for the execution of inmates; thrown alive, the prisoner would be mercilessly slashed to pieces to die an excruciating death on the pit floor. To this day, no evidence of ‘il-bir tas-skieken’ has ever been found. Perhaps, at the time, such rumours were deliberately set in motion to strike fear in people’s hearts and act as a serious deterrent for those who might think of challenging the Holy Office.

 

The Inquisitor’s official residence in Vittoriosa was originally built in the 1530’s to serve as the civil law court of the Order of St John soon after their arrival on the island in 1530. It served this purpose until 1571 when the Order transferred its headquarters to the new city of Valletta. But now this newly refurbished, historical treasure, the only surviving building of its kind in Europe, is ready to reinstate its splendour, serving as a magnificent, elegant setting for conferences, seminars and lectures with space for a light reception. Now fully-air-conditioned, the top floor of this architectural gem is a multi-resource area equipped with state-of-the-art conference facilities.

 

The Inquisitor’s Palace in Vittoriosa with its colourful and infamous history, is a unique and unparalleled setting where echoes of the past meet an innovative and bright future.