Logga tal-Palju - Rabat

Logga tal-Palju - Rabat


The Loġġa tal-Palju, located just below Saqqajja, was an arched grandstand used by Hospitaller dignitaries for the award ceremonies for the Imnarja horse races, celebrated yearly on 29 June on the feast of St Peter and St Paul. It was built in 1696 during the reign of Grand Master Adrien de Wignacourt to the design of the Maltesel architect Lorenzo Gafa following a petition by the Capitano della Verga of Mdina, Giovanni Gourgion, in order to replace an earlier timber structure which had been used for the purpose but was often damaged by strong winds.

The central feature of this building is a loggia facing south east, covered with a roof supported on arches. It was from here that the winners of the races were presented with a palju by the Grand Master. Flanking this central structure stand two small square rooms and further out are what appear to have been two free-standing lateral viewing platforms, both of which have open echaugettes. It is not yet clear when the latter were constructed and what purposes they were meant to serve.

The Loġġa tal-Palju was first included in the Antiquities Protection List of 1932 and was later scheduled by MEPA as a Grade 1 national monument in 2009. The building also falls within the Urban Conservation Area of Rabat, as well as the Rabat and Mdina Area of Archaeological Importance  and the Area of High Landscape Value (Rural) of Is-Saqqajja (part of the Mdina AHLV), Tal-Plieri and It-Tafal tal-Imdina.

The Loġġa tal-Palju  lay abandoned and neglected for many. The main concern with the state of its conservation was the high levels of humidity in its walls, as well as the overall neglect and lack of maintenance. As a result, the damage to the roofs and external spaces were addressed first followed by the internal spaces. This entailed repairs to the roof structure and roof screed, the removal of vegetation and the treatment of the flaking masonry, biological growth, black crust and open joints. The walls and ceilings were re-pointed and re-plastered. The timber apertures were also in need of treatment while all unwanted modern metal fixtures, such as nails, hooks, electricity brackets, metal conduits, etc. were carefully removed.  

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