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Inquisitor's Palace

POI: 35.887220, 14.522780
The Inquisitor's Palace (Maltese: Il-Palazz tal-Inkwiżitur, colloquially tal-Inkisitur) is a palace in Birgu, Malta. It was the seat of the Maltese Inquisition from 1574 to 1798, under the name Palazzo del Sant'Officio. The building was originally constructed as a courthouse known as the Castellania in the early 16th century, but little remains of the original building due to major alterations and renovations carried out in the subsequent centuries. After the inquisition was abolished during the French occupation of Malta in 1798, the palace was used for a number of purposes, including as a military hospital, a mess hall and a convent. It has been a museum since 1966, being known as the National Museum of Ethnography since 1992. The building is one of the few surviving palaces of its kind in the world, and the only one which is open to the public.
History
Castellania
The palace was built in around the 1530s, and it initially housed the Magna Curia Castellania Melitensis, a tribunal which was established by Grand Master Juan de Homedes y Coscon in 1543. The building's original design is attributed to the architects Diego Perez de Malfreire or Nicolò Flavari. It remained in use as a courthouse until 1572, when a new Castellania was built in Valletta after the Order of St. John moved their headquarters there.
Inquisition
The Inquisition was established in Malta in 1574, with the first inquisitor being Pietro Dusina. Grand Master Jean de la Cassière offered the former Castellania to Dusina as his official residence, who moved in after the building was renovated. The building became the headquarters of the Inquisition, serving as both a palace for the inquisitor and also housing the tribunal and prisons. Between the late 16th and 18th centuries, the various inquisitors who lived and worked in the palace made a number of major alterations to the building, and it was gradually transformed into a typical Roman palazzo with some Baroque influences. The palace was enlarged with the acquisition of nearby properties, and the first major renovation began in the 1630s under inquisitor Fabio Chigi (later Pope Alexander VII). The façade was rebuilt in 1660 to designs of Francesco Sammut, although it is often mistakenly attributed to Francesco Buonamici. The palace was damaged during the 1693 Sicily earthquake, resulting in further repairs and alternations. The upper floor was possibly built in 1707 by the architect Giovanni Barbara. The interior was also altered and embellished throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, with the main staircase being built in 1733 to designs of Romano Carapecchia. Due to these modifications, the building has a somewhat labyrinthine plan. The only remains of the original Castellania is a small courtyard with a Gothic groin vault cloister.
French occupation and British rule
The inquisition was abolished during the French occupation of Malta in June 1798. During French rule, the building was used as the headquarters...   ... (English)
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