It’s easy enough in Mdina on Malta to wander around in the tiny streets and be tempted to go into some of the shops with expensive souvenirs or touristy horse and carriages. But there is a good alternative to the cheesy way to see this popular spot.
If there is one cultural attraction that you might do while you’re here, I can recommend a visit to the Palazzo Falson historical house museum, as it definitely suprised me.
What we'll cover in this article
Palazzo Falson in Mdina: A Peek into Malta’s Noble Past
Palazzo Falson is the second oldest building still standing in the walled city of Mdina. It dates back to the 13th century.
In the early 16th century, it was inherited by the vice admiral Michele Falson, the head of the town council. In 1927, the Palazzo was bought by Captain Olof Frederick Gollcher OBE, who was a researcher, artist and philantropist. He was clearly also a bit of a hoarder, but he was very concerned with the conservation of the cultural heritage of Malta and put all of his collections on display.
The Palazzo and collection was restored in 2001 by the Maltese Heritage Foundation.
I start my journey through the building in the beautiful courtyard and it’s already a great peek into what’s yet to come. So much eye to detail, so many great angles and artworks. Let’s keep going!
The audio guide of the museum is quite nifty and easy to use!
The Weapon Room
The captain had a big interest in weaponry, as you can tell from the extensive collection on display in the Armoury. The walls are covered with gigantic swords, pistols and guns.
The beautifully decorated shields on the wall were some of my favourite.
What I liked about this museum is that you don’t just see the wealth of the collections held at the palazzo, but you also got a peek into daily life by visiting the bedrooms and the kitchen, for example. This was a place where people lived and you can still see how that must have been today.
The paintings collection upstairs is made up of more than 200 works. They include portraits, biblical and mythological scenes, and some marine-themed ones, which reflect the fact that the Gollcher family business was in shipping. You can also see that in the workplace, where some of the paintings also depict nautical scenes.
The Vault in the Staircase
Who doesn’t dream sometimes of a vault in their house? Well, you can find it here at Falson. And they needed one, because the impressive silver collection consists of more than 800 items!!! You want to make sure you lock them up well when you leave.
In the staircase next to the vault, you can find an inscription, which apparently is a sign that there was a ghost floating around in the corridors of the palace. Oooohhh!
Make sure to go all the way to the top, because from the rooftop you have a great view:
With a library of over 4500 books and a painting collection including some significant 17th century works and the collections in the building that were stunning on their own, walking around is really a feast for the eyes.
It was great to see some works by Dutch artists as well on the walls
The room for the butler is small, but still quite stylish
My favourite room of the house!
Although Mdina is a pretty spectacular city on its own, the people are always the ones that bring you the most memorable stories. And the stories that Captain Gollcher kept alive through Palazzo Falson give you a little bit more insight in the amazing history of Malta. So would I recommend a visit? If you’re looking to step back in time to understand a bit more of life today, I definitely would!
Visitor information: The palazzo is closed on Monday, but all other days open from 10AM to 5PM. Last visit is at 4PM. No kids under 6 years are allowed in the museum, as there isn’t a lot of space (definitely no room for prams) and objects are very fragile.
Admission: Adults €10 / Lm 4,29 (+free audio guide)
Disclaimer: I was kindly hosted by the Malta Tourism organisation during the #MaltaIsMore Blog Island campaign. The staff at Palazzo Falson was very accommodating and made it possible for me to take photos wherever I wanted, very much appreciated!
Have you ever visited Malta? Would you explore Palazzo Falson?
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This post is also available in: Dutch