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Your Guide to Malta and Gozo - Palazzo Falson

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Palazzo Falson

Villegaignon Street, Mdina; tel: +356 2145 4512; www.palazzofalson.com

Tue-Sun: 10.00 – 16.00hrs;  Regular Adult Ticket (Includes free audio guide): € 10.00; Students: € 5.00; Senior citizens: € 5.00. Children younger than six years of age are not allowed in the museum.

 

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Walking along Villegaignon Street, a stately building with a large courtyard caught my eye. I stepped inside and casually leafed through the pages of the visitors' book at the entrance. “Thoroughly enjoyed Palazzo Falson”, wrote a visitor from the United Kingdom. Very few people seemed to disagree.

 

A Historical Note

Palazzo Falson was erected in the early 13th Century, and is one of the oldest buildings in Malta. Its architecture is in the style of Sicilian palazzi of its day. Palazzo Falson owes its name to the Falson family who in the 16th Century called it “home”. A later “Falson” - Matteo - harboured sympathies for the Lutheran movement and came under fire from the local Inquisition. He fled the Island and the Inquisition took over his property. The first Grand Master of the Order, l'Isle Adam stayed briefly in this residence soon after the Knights took possession of the Islands.

The last resident of Palazzo Falson was Captain Olof Gollcher who lived here until his death in 1962. Gollcher was a keen collector of all sorts of items and housed within this palazzo are no fewer than 45 collections that he amassed during his lifetime.

 

The Ground Floor

Notable in the kitchen is a fireplace quaintly decorated with majolica tiles. A collection of kitchen utensils and accessories is housed here. One of the more interesting items in this room is the “baqra”, a traditional earthenware pot for cooking stew, so called on account of its resemblance to a cow. In the dining room or refectory is a collection of objects d'art. Beyond the refectory is the armoury, which besides arms such as crossbows, daggers and cannon balls also includes a chastity belt. The refectory also communicates with Olof's studio. His easel alongside a collection of his paintings is still there whilst an array of photographs shows him and his friends making merry in a jovial get-together. Olof was well known to enjoy a good smoke, and perhaps jokingly his group of friends was known as the Confraternity of the Pipe. A set of pipes still hangs in his studio until this day.

 

The Piano Nobile

On the first floor are several collections including coins, jewellery and fob watches . One particular watch, and perhaps the most interesting item in this collection comes from post-Revolution France. The Revolutionaries attempted to do away with the Gregorian calendar (reminiscent of the old regime) and re-defined a day as consisting of ten hours of a hundred minutes each. On display here is a rare example of a fob-watch based on this decimal system, with ten hours on the dial.

The dining room on the Piano Nobile contains an exquisitely laid-out table with fine silver cutlery and portraits of Olaf's parents and grandparents; whilst the drawing room contains fine examples of Maltese furniture and a collection of paintings. Amongst the collections in the adjacent sitting room are further examples of Maltese furniture, fans and porcelain. Olaf was an avid reader and his library contains some 4500 volumes ranging in subject from Melitensia to biographies and art.

The Chapel is well-equipped with religious paraphernalia and religious imagery and also includes a 17th Century prie-dieu; whilst the bedroom contains paintings and a collection of Olaf's personal effects, including a set of membership cards. The subsequent rooms house an extensive collection of kilims, or oriental rugs and finally archaeological artefacts from Maltese prehistoric sites and documents such as papal bulls – official papal communications with a lead seal - are to be found in the last room that you may visit.

Two flights of steps will take you to the building's roof-top and cafeteria, where you may indulge in some delicious pastries whilst admiring a truly splendid panorama of Mdina and its environs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inquisitor's Palace in a nutshell

  • Built in the 13th Century in the style of Sicilian palazzi of its time. One of the oldest buildings in Malta.
  • Named after the Falson family who lived here in the 16th Century. A later Falson, Matteo, also lived here; he fled the island after the Inquisition persecuted him for sympatizing with the Luterans. The Inquisition took over his property.
  • The last resident of Palazzo Falson was Olof Gollcher who lived here until his death im 1963.
  • You may visit the kitchen, containing traditional Maltese kitchenware, the refactory with its majolica tiling and objects d'art; the armoury, which contains daggers, other weaponry and a chastity belt and Olof's Studio
  • On the first floor, you may see an exquisitely laid out table with fine silverware, the chapel, the drawing room containing fine furniture, and paintings and Olof's Library.