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Race stand (il-loġġa tal-palju) in Rabat

The race stand, located just below Saqqajja, is closely associated with one of the oldest and most popular folk feasts. The Imnarja, celebrated yearly on June 29, happens to be the feast of St Peter and St Paul.

The festival consists of the reading of the bandu at Saqajja, an agricultural show at Buskett, horse races at Saqqajja and a traditional għana festival and stalls serving traditional Maltese food and drink is held at Buskett on the eve of the feast.

The horse races are still a very important part of the Imnarja festivities and they were closely followed by the Grand Master. For the Grand Master’s comfort a loġġa was built in 1696 during the reign of Adrien de Wignacourt according to the design of Lorenzo Gafà and constructed by capomastru Salvu Borg from Siġġiewi. This current structure replaced an earlier timber structure since it was often damaged by strong winds and thus the Grand Master ordered that a permanent structure be built following a successful petition to Wignacourt by Giovanni Gourgion who occupied the post of Capitano della Verga. It is from here that the winner of the races was presented with a palju.

The loġġa consists of an arched grandstand flanked by two rooms.

The grandstand consists of a number of high semi-circular arches with moulded edges. The floor is covered in masonry flag stones and an inscription within one of the walls commemorates its inauguration.

The Loġġa tal-Palju at Saqqajja, was included in the Antiquities Protection List of 1932 and was scheduled by Mepa as a Grade 1 national monument Government Notice number 1082/09 in the Government Gazette dated December 22, 2009.

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