The Palace Armoury
The Palace Armoury is a showcase of the opulence of the Knights of St John. Ruling the Maltese Islands from 1530 to 1798, these knights formed a unique brotherhood of resolute warrior monks who defended the Catholic faith against the relentless attacks of the Ottoman Turks.
A visit to the Armoury’s collection will demonstrate that during that era, armour was not simply a means of defending the body against injury during combat. It was also a status symbol and a means of showing one’s wealth and power. The laboriously fashioned and lavishly decorated armour of some of the knights reflect clearly this phenomenon.
It was Grand Master Alof de Wignacourt who gave life to this great collection of weapons and military equipment. The collection became the pride of the Order when he transferred it to the Magisterial Palace in 1604. At the time, besides being richly adorned with elaborate trophies of arms, it held enough weapons and armour to equip thousands of soldiers.
Following the forced departure of the Order of St. John from the islands, the armoury lost much of its original grandeur. The collection was revived after it was restored and exhibited in 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.