Malta reinstates the Changing of the Guard Ceremony

Malta reinstates the Changing of the Guard Ceremony

Malta is a popular destination for many enthusiasts of military history. Every year, the islands host reenactments of famous battles that took place here. The museums are filled with weaponry and artifacts from the past two thousand years. Visitors are able to see the militant face of Malta by taking part in expositions and ceremonies such as The Changing of the Guard.

The Ceremony in Valletta

The Ceremony in Valletta

The warlike nature of previous centuries have demanded that in times of peace, soldiers should still practice well regulated drills in order to maintain them focused and alert. One of these drills was the Changing of the Guard and it was established in many countries all over the world. Malta embraced this trend in the 17th century when the Order of St. John called for a complex ritual to take place in front of the Grandmaster’s Palace in Valletta.

Every month, handpicked soldiers from the Maltese army would perform a ceremonial that consisted in changing the guarding duties while being followed by a musical repertoire. The practice lasted until 1971, when trying to cut costs to the army’s budget, the then Prime Minister Dom Mintoff swiftly cancelled it.

The spectacular tradition had been restored in 2011, only to be inexplicably cancelled in March 2014. That event came as a surprise, considering that the Government had spent over 20 000 euro for new uniforms and for renewing the garrisons. Now, the Home Affairs Minister, Manuel Mallia has assured locals and tourists alike that with the beginning of 2015 they will be able to witness once again the eye-catching routine.

The Maltese Military Band

The Maltese Military Band

The Changing of the Guard ceremony will take place in St. George’s Square, located at the heart of Valletta. On a monthly basis, the outgoing sentries will perform guarding drills in front of the most important buildings in the Capital, before being relieved by the new sentries. The Maltese Military Band will accompany them for the whole 45 minutes of the ritual.

In the times of the Knights of St. John, the sentries were stationed in the same square that bore the name of Piazza de la Guardia. During British dominion, the same sentries were housed inside a garrison near the square and were commissioned to guard the governor of the British Empire.

Changing of the Guard

Changing of the Guard

This is one of the main attractions in Valletta, and any tourist to the Maltese islands should not miss it. Local people have also expressed their delight for the restoration of what is considered a major landmark of the Capital.

So, before planning your trip to Malta, make sure that it will include this sensational event as well. Make your way through the crowd and assist at the precise choreography that took months of planning and exercise.

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