thumb thumb thumb Palazzo Malta, which is sometimes referred to as Palazzo di Malta or Palazzo dell'Ordine di Malta, is the more important of the two headquarters of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta (the other being Villa Malta), an order of chivalry. It is located in Via dei Condotti 68 in Rome, Italy, a few minutes' walk from the Spanish Steps, and has been granted extraterritoriality by the Italian Government and is now the property of the Order.
On June 12, 1798, the French forces under Napoleon Bonaparte captured the city of Valletta, Malta, which was the capital of the Order of Malta. The Order of Malta had been given the island by Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor in 1530. Napoleon left the city with a sizeable garrison and a handpicked administration. On September 5, 1800, the British conquered the island from the French forces which had been holding it.<ref name="WS">Ben Cahoon, Sovereign Military Order of Malta, WorldStatesmen.org, 2001. Retrieved August 27, 2007.</ref> Malta was made a British colony on March 30, 1814 by the Treaty of Paris.
Thus, the Order of Malta was left without any territory, and it was effectively disbanded. It was restored, however, in 1834, under the new name "Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta", or simply the "Sovereign Military Order of Malta" (SMOM). New headquarters were set up at Palazzo Malta. In 1869, the Palazzo Malta, and the other headquarters of the Order, Villa Malta, were granted extraterritoriality by Italy.<ref name="WS"/> Today they are recognised by more than 100 countries as the independent headquarters of a sovereign entity, with mutual diplomatic relations established.
Antonio Bosio, the famed Italian archeologist whose father was the representative of the Order of Malta to the Holy See, bought a building on what was then the Via Trinitatis which become Palazzo Malta; when he died in 1629, he bequeathed the building to the Order of Malta. Until 1834, the building was used as the home of the ambassador of the Order to the Holy See. From 1889 to 1894, the building was renovated and restructured, with the original characteristics of the building being retained for the most part.<ref name="SII">Via Condotti, Northern Side, ShoppingInItaly.it, 1997. Retrieved August 27, 2007.</ref>
Since March 11, 2008, His Most Eminent Highness Fra' Matthew Festing, the 79th Prince and Grand Master of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, has resided in the Palazzo Malta. The majority of governmental and administrative duties are carried out there also.
The building itself is made of ashlar blocks, and it is crowned with a corbelled cornice.<ref name="SII"/>