Stagno Palace

Stagno Palace (Palazzo Stagno) was built in 1589 but not much is known about the family that lived here. The Stagno family came from Messina in nearby Sicily, and judging by the size of the palace, must have been fairly wealthy. During the period that it was built, Malta belonged to the Knights of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, who came here in 1530 and stayed for over 200 years. In fact, it is said that the palazzo was the country residence of one of the Knights who was next in line to succeed the Grand Master. A plaque outside the palazzo was erected by Ħal Qormi (Citta’ Pinto) local council testifying to its status as one of the oldest houses in the area.

The palazzo is an imposing building. Its large, airy rooms surround a huge internal courtyard on the ground floor which allows access to terraces overlooking an orchard. Upstairs, the palazzo has a chapel and birth room and even a spiral staircase leading up to a turret affording distant views of Mdina and Valletta.

In his book “The Building of Malta during the period of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem 1530-1795”, Quentin Hughes says that “the carvings on the facades of the Stagno palace are most original and interesting. The triple rolls of the Melitan mouldings are even fatter and more bulbous than usual, but they are strangely combined with delicately carved leaf decoration on the consoles which support the window pediments. These consoles rest upon grotesque heads and tall narrow panelled pilasters which lie against the architrave of the windows
The windmill at Ħal Qormi has been out of use for a number of years and can still be located near the Mrieħel bypass. A similar windmill, found at Tax-Xarolla in Zurrieq, has been restored.

The frieze is richly carved with a flat strap decoration and all the mouldings are unorthodox by any but Maltese standards. The carving of these friezes is more reminiscent of Spanish colonial work from Peru or Mexico than anything usually associated with Malta. The heads have an untamed appearance strangely disquieting.”

Apart from these strange carvings, the palazzo boasts several other intriguing architectural puzzles and wonders. The windows and doorways are haphazardly placed just as they occur with no attempt at symmetry and none of the 167 apertures are the same size. The garden was dug out of the bedrock and the quarried stones were used to build the palazzo as well as, it is said, the nearby church of St. George. The garden is served by 3 wells, amongst which is one of the largest dome-shaped wells on the island. Various legends surround this mysterious palazzo. One of the most well known is the story of how the church of St. George came to be built in its present location, instead of the village centre.