Sunday, November 21, 2010

Palazzo Parisio

before you get started - we posted about Palazzo Parisio in a more recent post with better, original photos, like this:

original post

We had always planned to visit Palazzo Parisio in the village of Naxxar when we returned to Malta. It was something we had missed during our first visit here and I was interested by its claim to be the "Mini Versailles" of Europe. During our visit yesterday we were not disappointed by this claim

Palazzo Parisio is a breath taking 19th century palace owned and operated by the Scicluna (pronounced shik-clu-nah) family (who still have legit "titles") and is frequented by such impressive visitors as Oprah (which means, since I visited there, I've sort of "met" Oprah by extension - right?)

Palazzo Parisio was originally built in 1733 by the Portuguese Grand Master Manoel de Vilhena (the is the same guy who built the Teatru Manoel in Valletta) who ruled the island during the time of the Knights of St. John. It was later bought and embellished by Marquis Giuseppe Scicluna in 1898. As a banker and philanthropist, it was Scicluna's vision that inspired the magnificent interior of Palazzo Parisio, as is evident in the many tributes (sculptural and painting) to the inventions of the steam engine, electricity, commerce, etc. that can be found here.

Palazzo Parisio is lavishly decorated with ceiling and wall murals and frescoes, stucco work, antique furniture, paintings and extravagant gilding. The massive amount of decoration is no doubt overwhelming, but less so than Versailles itself, and its miniature scale is actually quite charming. The property is one of the only privately owned and operated "historical" tourist spots in Malta, and it shows. The restoration, conservation and visitor services at Palazzo Parisio are very good. Palazzo Parisio has a lovely restaurant, cafe and lounge and is probably the most luxurious place in Malta to have a cup of tea or a glass of wine. Besides being a tourist site it is also used for private functions and weddings. 

The walled gardens rank amongst the finest in Malta and are the only privately owned gardens open to the public, marketed largely towards garden loving tourists. Classically baroque in style, they are a mixture of Italian symmetry and Mediterranean colour and perfume, reminiscent of my favourite Maltese gardens - San Anton Gardens at the president's home in Balzan. Overall, Palazzo Parisio is a lovely spot to spend an afternoon and nourish any fantasies you have of living in a palace...or hanging out with Oprah.

Oprah with the Scicluna family at Palazzo Parisio in 2009

all photos (except first photo) from palazzo parisio's web site.

see our more recent blog post (with original photos) about palazzo parisio here.


  1. I can certainly see why the "mini-Versailles" tag!

  2. Hi J
    Your Mom and I taking a look...gorgeous pics!
    Have fun in France'


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