Faith and tradition have on innumerable accounts gone hand in hand to yield a rich socio-cultural artistic patrimony which can today be considered as an integral part of Maltese identity. Holy week will come to an end this week. It is one of the islands’ strongest religious traditions, and the most intense period in the liturgical calendar starting with Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of Lent, and culminating with Holy Week and Easter, to come at an end fifty days later with Pentecost. This is a considerable stretch of 100 days packed with a myriad of customs and traditions.
While many might be familiar with Heritage Malta’s work to preserve and valorise the tangible heritage in its custody, lesser people had the chance to appreciate its input in the consolidation of intangible heritage. This is put forward through various outreach initiatives, documentation projects, thematic educational programmes and permanent displays in its museums. Topical for this time of the year is the Carnival, Lent and Easter Maltese Traditions permanent display at the Inquisitor’s Palace and National Museum of Ethnography in Birgu.
The Inquisitor’s Palace will open its doors for free on Saturday 31st March, Easter Vigil – a perfect opportunity to delve into the history and the influences that have shaped the rituals, customs and pageantry related to the commemoration of Christ’s passion and resurrection in Malta. Moreover, visitors will have the opportunity to visit this unique palace, home to the inquisitor and the inquisitorial tribunal from 1574 up till 1798. The palace is in itself an architectural gem, combining sophisticated ambiences typical of a ‘palazzo romano’ of the Roman Baroque period with an austere prison complex. In fact the current experience is divided in three distinct sections, the domestic and kitchen area at ground floor level, the piano nobile which includes both official halls and private quarters extending on two floors, and a third part with spaces pertaining to the Holy Office itself, including the tribunal chamber, torture chamber and prison complex.
Visitors visiting the site during open day will have the opportunity to appreciate the on-going restoration works on both the building and the collection. Two guided tours will be held at 10.00hrs and 14.00hrs offering insights into the only known Inquisitorial Palace accessible to the public worldwide.
Heritage Malta’s open day at the Inquisitor’s Palace and National Museum of Ethnography will take place on Saturday 31 March between 9.00hrs and 17.00hrs, last admission is at 16.30hrs.