Casa Rocca Piccola is a 16th-century palace in Malta, and home of the noble de Piro family. It is situated in Valletta, the capital city of Malta. There are daily tours. The history of Casa Rocca Piccola goes back over 400 years to an era in which the Knights of St John, having successfully fought off the invading Turks in 1565, decided to build a prestigious city to rival other European capitals such as Paris and Venice. Palaces were designed for prestige and aesthetic beauty in most of Valletta’s streets, and bastion walls fortified the new sixteenth-century city. Casa Rocca Piccola was one of two houses built in Valletta by Admiral Don Pietro la Rocca. It is referenced in maps of the time as “la casa con giardino” meaning, the house with the garden, as normally houses in Valletta were not allowed gardens. Changes were made in the late 18th century to divide the house into two smaller houses. Further changes were made in 1918 and before the second world war an air raid shelters was added. The Casa Rocca Piccola Family Shelter is the second air-raid shelter to be dug in Malta. In 2000 a major restoration project saw the two houses that make up Casa Rocca Piccola reunited.
The Palace Armoury is one of the world’s largest collections of arms and armour that is still housed in its original building. The Knights of St John were a unique brotherhood of resolute warrior monks. From Malta, their island stronghold, these combatant aristocrats from the noblest houses of Europe, carried out their relentless crusade against the Ottoman Turks in defence of the Catholic faith. The Palace Armoury is certainly one of the most visible and tangible symbols of the past glories of the Sovereign Hospitaller Military Order of Malta.
Grand Master Alof de Wignacourt transferred the Order’s arsenal to the Magisterial Palace in 1604 where it was the pride of the Order. Apart from being lavishly adorned with elaborate trophies of arms, it held enough arms and armour to equip thousands of soldiers. It was housed in the magnificent hall at the rear of the building, right above its present location. At present, it is displayed inside two halls that were originally the stables of the palace.
Following the forced departure of the Order of St. John from Malta, the armoury somehow lost much of its original grandeur. However, it was restored and was officially opened as Malta’s first public museum in 1860. Although only a fraction of its original splendour remains, the Armoury still contains abundant material of Italian, German, French and Spanish origin from principal production centres. Also displayed is an exotic selection of Islamic and Ottoman arms and armour. Apart from the massed arms of the common soldiers in the collection, the enriched personal armours of the nobility still manage to make a statement.
The Lascaris towers are a series of mostly coastal watchtowers that the Order of Saint John (Knights of Malta) built as military fortifications on the island of Malta.
Giovanni Paolo Lascaris became Grand Master of the Order of Saint John in 1636. He commissioned the building of five towers for the Maltese coast. The military architect Vincenzo Maculani, who had been sent to Malta by Pope Innocent X, was responsible for their design and construction, which took place between 1637 and 1640.
Modern day locals often refer to both the five Lascaris towers and the thirteen later de Redin towers collectively as “de Redin towers”. The Wignacourt towerspreceded the Lascaris towers.
Għajn Tuffieħa Tower, also known as Għajn Mixkuka Tower, was built on the cliffs overlooking Għajn Tuffieħa Bay close to Mellieħa and Mġarr on the north west coast of Malta. The tower was built on the site of a medieval watch post. It was originally armed with a half pounder gun and garrisoned by four men. The men were paid by the Universita of Mdina.
The tower was restored in 2000 with the support of the Director of Public Projects and the philanthropic organisation Din l-Art Ħelwa. In 2012, the tower was vandalized when graffiti was sprayed on it but this was removed. The tower continued to be renovated until the Gaia Foundation opened it to the public in 2013 as part of a peace grove containing over 20 species of indigenous plants.
The monastery of Saint Ursula was first established at Vittoriosa, but in 1595 it was transferred to Valletta. The nuns follow the rule written by Blessed Raymond du Puy, first Grandmaster of the Order of Saint John. During the time of the Knights the monastery was subject to the Grandmaster, but since the departure of the Order from Malta, the monastery has been directly subject to the Bishop.
For more information on the history of The Monastery and Church of St. Ursula see link below:
Għajn Tuffieħa Bay is a red beach a short distance south of Golden Bay. It is quieter than Golden Bay and often visited by the Maltese themselves, as well as tourist visitors. In order to reach this beach one needs to descend a hill on a staircase of 200 steps. On top of the cliffs west of Għajn Tuffieħa bay there is an old defense tower built in 1637. It is one of the seven towers built by Grand Master Giovanni Paolo Lascaris, of the Knights Hospitaller. Għajn Tuffieħa has a cafe, Riviera Martinique, at the foot of the access staircase.
Constructed on a grid pattern in 1551 by order of Grandmaster De La Sengle, the Gardjola Gardens in Senglea offer a panoramic view that includes the docks in Marsa, Valletta, the entrance to the Grand Harbour and Fort St. Angelo.
The sentry box placed on the tip of the bastion, ‘il-gardjola’, epitomises the role of the fortifications around the harbour. On the sentry box there are sculptured various symbols of watchfulness, namely the eye, the ear, and the crane bird. The inscription in Latin assures the inhabitants of the harbour area to rest at ease, as the tower stands guard against any hostile force that may attempt to approach Maltese shores.
The main floor has an impressive picture gallery with works by Mattia Preti, Antoine Favray, Francesco Zahra and other Maltese as well as European Artists. Also a collection of 17th- 19th century Spanish, Italian and Maltese silver; a unique wooden altar used for the celebration of Mass on the galleys of the Order of the Knights of Malta; a collection of old relics and reliquaries, sculptures in wood, alabaster and bronze, including a medallion by Alessandro Algardi; maps, coins, prints and rare books among which is King Henry VIII’s ‘Septem Sacramants” written to confute Martin Luther and above all a baroque chapel for the private devotions of the residing chaplains.