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<the maltese architect gerolamo cassar>

Gerolamo (also Girolamo or, as in Maltese, Glormu) Cassar was the first Maltese who worked as an architect and who made a great contribution to the development of the island. He was probably born in Birgu in 1520. His family originated from Sicily and came to Malta around 1440. The date of his death is not known; it can only be assumed that Cassar died between 1586 and 1592. He lived with his wife, Mattea, his two sons (one of which, Vittorio, was later to become an architect, too) and his three daughters in Strada Pia (today Melita Street) in Valletta.


gerolamo cassar

During the Great Siege Cassar fought against the Turks, he helped repairing the fortifications after the attack, and he invented several war machines. He was instructed by the military engineers, like Francesco Laparelli, who came from Italy and Spain to help the Knights with the building of the new city. Cassar assisted Laparelli during his project of the building of Valletta. It is not known which parts of the fortifications were built by Cassar or what his tasks were during their construction.


After Laparelli had left the island in 1569, Cassar had to take over his job. The building of the fortifications was almost finished, and the Order was now looking for someone to design the buildings for the new city Valletta. They decided on Cassar to take over this job. As Cassar had never designed any ecclesiastical or secular buildings, the Order of St. John decided to send him to Italy. There he was supposed to study the modern Renaissance and Mannerist architecture in Rome, Naples and other parts of the country. He probably left Malta on April 23rd, 1569 to travel to Italy, but there is no documentary proof that he had ever left the island.
interior of augustinian church in rabat: cassar might be buried here (this is actually a question that nobody was able to answer yet...)

Due to stylistic similarities between the Italian architecture of that time and Cassar's buildings for the Order of St. John, one can assume that Cassar went abroad to get a first hand impression of the architecture in Italy. He must have returned until the end of that year, and he started making plans for the Valletta buildings in 1570.


A document proves that Cassar built the auberges for the different langues of the Order, the Grand Master Palace, the Convent Church and other churches in Valletta, as well as for the bakery, the mills and some private houses in Valletta. Outside Valletta he built the Augustinian Church and the Augustinian cloister, the Capuchin cloister in Rabat and the Verdala Palace. 

There are definitely more buildings which were designed by Cassar and which are not mentioned in this document; it can, for example, be assumed that the Hospital of the Order was also built by him. No original plans exist anymore, and most buildings were later altered or even destroyed, especially in the Second World War, which makes it difficult to reconstruct their original designs. 

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direct links to related subject:


the grand


the auberges
in valletta