A resplendent side facade unveiled at the Inquisitor’s Palace, Birgu

The facade of the Inquisitor’s Palace has been given a face-lift following restoration works by Heritage Malta.

Painstaining cleaning of Black Crust 2The scaffold has just been removed to unveil a great job done by Heritage Malta at the Inquisitor’s Palace. This is a pleasant addition in line with the ongoing research, conservation, and upgrade of the palace collections. It also enhances the visitor experience and moves towards the revalorization of this 500 year old architectural gem and major cultural attraction within the Three Cities.

During the past months, mastri from the Projects Department of Heritage Malta, together with a number of apprentices currently attending vocational education at MCAST through the Heritage Masonry Skills course, have been working on the conservation and restoration of the palace facade overlooking Triq il-Palazz tal-Isqof.

The majority of work involved the cleaning of large parts of the facade from black crust Replacement of deteriorated decorative elements through traditional stone carving techniques 2and soot deposited onto the masonry surface from past polluting sources in the Grand Harbour. Besides darkening the masonry, this polluting residue from diesel and coal combustion is a major source of deterioration on limestone. Cleaning was done manually using nylon bristle brushes, scalpels and finally low-pressure cleaning with water. Failing mortar joints were replaced by new lime-based pointing, and extensive lengths of the crowning cornice, which was deteriorated beyond repair, was replaced. This was ethically done in full respect of the traditional methods, including the application of an overlying deffun screed against water ingress.

Inquisitor's Palace 5All the timber apertures on the facade have been restored and repainted by the internal maintenance staff at the Inquisitor’s Palace and new apertures manufactured by the carpentry section of Heritage Malta.

This project was part funded through the cooperation Cross Border Operational Programme, Italia-Malta 2007 under the Lithos Project led by the ‘Provincia Regionale di Ragusa’ and in which Heritage Malta was a partner. It served as the educational arm of the project whereby apprentices were exposed to the different conservation and restoration skills and methodologies applied.