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Auberge de France

After the Order settled in Vittoriosa and enlarged the old Palace in Fort St Angelo as a residence of the Grand Master, they embarked on building seven Auberges for the Knights.

They built one auberge for each langue except for Provence and Auvergne which were incorporated within that for France.

The collacchio concept was abandoned and the auberges in Vittoriosa were built alongside other buildings and sometimes each auberge was separated by a considerable distance.

The new auberges in Vittoriosa were built around 1533 and their design is mainly a reflection of Melitan architecture.

Auberge d’Angleterre and Auberge de France have similar plans based on the traditional Maltese layout (exhibiting significant Moorish influence) consisting of a central entrance flanked by rooms on either side underlying the main chambers (piano nobile) at first floor. However, the layout of these auberges was determined by the size, definition and availability of plots within streets that were already partially built up and the alignment defined.

In fact, Auberge de France incorporated an earlier single storey property and added a first floor. According to Ward-Perkins, the plan consisted of a “barrel-vaulted entrance passage with a doorway on either side leading into rooms with flat roofs supported on a series of diaphragm arches”.

Additionally, “the first floor included a large room which served both as a mess and an assembly hall other rooms mainly serving as dormitories, and a room which was reserved for the Pilier’s private use”.

The façade represents typical Maltese secular architecture along the lines of late medieval houses in Mdina. It is also significantly plain broken only by the use of Melitan mouldings around the rectangular windows and double height corbels. This auberge together with that of d’Angleterre, have survived relatively intact.

This auberge was acquired by the Government in 1938 following a period being used for wood working. It was later used as a school for some time, and in 1981 it was used as a Museum for Political History until 1988.

Auberge de France in Hilda Tabone Street (formerly Brittania Street), Vittoriosa was scheduled by Mepa as a Grade 1 national monument as per Government Notice number 1082/09 in the Government Gazette dated December 22, 2009.

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