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Your Guide to Malta and Gozo - Collachio

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The Collachio

Soon after taking possession of Malta and adopting Birgu as their headquarters, the Knights designated an area within this town as their Collachio. This area was exclusively accessible to the Knights after sunset and here they erected their most important buildings and monuments.

The Collachio today is no longer the reserve of the elitist few. It is a quiet residential area with narrow, winding streets the sides of which the residents have heavily decorated with lush green potted plants. The streets of the Collachio are pleasantly devoid of cars and children indulge here in hours of carefree play.

The Knights bought homes for themselves in the Collachio, but each Langue also had its own palace or Auberge. Two of these buildings no longer exist today: The Auberge of Italy in St. Lawrence Street and that of Germany in the Main Square were destroyed during the blitz of the Second World War.


The Auberge of England is on Majjistral Street and was originally the residence of Sir Clement West who purchased it from a Catherine Abela in 1534 and donated it to the Langue of England in 1535. This was later enlarged to the palace that we know today. There was never a corresponding Auberge in Valletta as the Langue of England was suppressed by King Henry VIII when he broke off from the Catholic Church after approval for his divorce from Catherine of Aragon was not granted by Pope Paul III. This building is accessible as a public library.

The Auberge of France on Hilda Tabone Street was built on a plan by Bartolomeo Menga It was was occupied by the French Langue until 1586 when the Auberge in Valletta was completed. It has been used as a Secondary School by the British and later as a small carpentry factory. It has also housed briefly a Museum of political history.

The nearby Auberges of Provançe and Auvergne also on Hilda Tabone Street were sold to private residents to provide funding for the new Auberges in Valletta when the Knights moved to the new Capital. A marble tablet marks the location of these buildings. Also on Hilda Tabone Street is the Auberge of Aragon.

The Auberge of Castille and Portugal is in Quarter Front Street. The Langue of Castille was responsible for the defence of a considerable stretch of the City's fortifications. This building suffered significant damage in the areal bombings of the Second World War.

The Executioner's House on Pope Alexander VII Street is today a dilapidated building. At the junction with Paċifiku Scicluna Street a marble plaque on the façade marks this humble construction which was given to the person holding this unenviable office in the 16th Century.

The Palace of the Universita' in Triq il-Kunsill Popolari was built in 1538. The Universita' was founded by Grand Master D'Homedes in 1536 as a separate entity from the Universita' at Mdina and was given jurisdiction over the south of the island. It had the exclusive role of supplying such goods as grain and ammunition to the local population, and was dismantled by Thomas Maitland.

The building of the Holy Infirmary of the Order in St Scholastica Str has been occupied by Benedictine nuns since 1652. Prior to this, it served as the first Military Hospital founded by the Knights in Malta in 1532. The church nearby is dedicated to St. Anne and was designed by Lorfenzo Gafa in 1679. The residence of the guardian of the Infirmary is by this church in Aimer Street and was invariably a member of the French Langue.

On the site of a block of residential flats in Old Governor's Palace Street used to stand the Magisterial Palace constructed by Grand Master La Vallette. This was destroyed in an areal bombing in the Second World War. It was occupied by the Benedictine nuns of St. Scholastica between 1604 and 1652.

Armoury Palace in Triq it-Torri ta' San Ġwann was constructed as a storage facility for arms and ammunition. It is currently a derelict building although some restoration work was carried out in 2006.

Bishop's Palace on Bishop's Palace Street was acquired by Bishop Cubelles in 1542. Adjacent to this was the Bishop's Prison which was demolished when the Bishop's seat was transferred to Valletta.



  • Wander through the narrow streets of the Collachio. This used to be a residential area for the Knights. Locals were forbidden to enter the Collachio after sunset.
  • A quiet residential area, decorated with potted plants and sparse traffic.