- It’s free to wander around
- There is a great little walk down the path behind the tower down towards the sea
- I mean, it’s a big old tower that looks like it’s been built in Minecraft. What more could you want!?
- The ghostly remains of an abandoned hotel behind it
- Cats, cat everywhere, lots of friendly cats 🙂
Where To Find It
Selmun Palace was built in 1783 on a plan designed by an architect Dominic Cachia. Although it looks like a military building, it was actually used as a meeting place of the Knights of the Order of Saint John who would use it as their summer hunting residence.
There is a hotel just behind the palace, which was owned by Air Malta before closing in 2011. It now sits as a somewhat ghostly post-disaster style building.
We popped over to Selmun Palace on one of those impulsive change of directions that typify great adventures. Unlike the stories of ancient explorers, there was no guiding star, man with magic beans or divine intervention that got us to turn off the route to our original destination, but a big brown sign that said ‘SELMUN PALACE, NEXT RIGHT’. I’m pretty easily distracted at the best of times, but when someone shoves up a big brown sign with words like that on it I’m in. I’d not heard of any palaces on Malta, so they hooked my in without a second thought.
And to be honest, if I’d read about Selmun Palace in advance, I’d question if we’d have dropped by. It’s a big old beautiful building that’s for sure, but that’s about it. It’s rather typical of Malta, looking a little bit sad and lonely as alot of the historical buildings can on this island. In the UK this would have been snapped up my the National Trust or English Heritage long ago. There’d be signs everywhere, over-priced car parking, lots of old people hanging around and a cafe serving gut-busting scones. In Malta what you get is a building that now seems to serve no purpose other than being a luxury sparrow nesting site.
So it would be easy to write it off, but let’s not be too hasty. There’s a certain charm in finding an abandoned place like this. You get it all to yourself, no crowds, no guides, just you forming your own opinions. If it wasn’t for the big brown sign, and occasional farmer chugging by in a clapped out pickup, it would be easy to pretend you were some kind of adventurer, discovering an old castle hidden away in the country. We all had those amazing powers of imagination as children, and this rekindles the flames of those lost parts of our brain. We used to play by an old Roman road at the back of our village, looking for treasures and tools in the grass and making up stories of centurions. Imagine the stories we would have told ourselves if this place was nearby.
Just round the back is a deserted hotel that just adds to the mysterious glamour. It feels like they just downed tools and walked off. We walked round in search of the cream tea that was still advertised on notice boards. I was genuinely surprised when the lights were off as everything seems set to reopen tomorrow. I couldn’t believe it when I read that it had been closed since 2011, another interesting quirk of property management in Malta.
If none of this interests you then it’s well worth a stop off just for the walk down behind the palace. There is a gravelly path that snakes its way between fields of crops, fuelled by innovative irrigation system. It leads you downhill towards the sea giving a fantastic view out across to the Tower Of Għajn Ħadid and the Mediterranean waters beyond.
So there we have it, Selmun Palace! You’re certainly not going to occupy yourself for too long here, but if you’re in the north of Malta on the way to one of the more popular tourist attractions like Popeye Village, then pull over for half an hour or so and experience a rare quiet moment on the busy island of Malta.
If you’re still confused by the heading to this post then I thought I’d throw you a rope. Minecraft is a computer game which is like a virtual version of Lego. You use blocks to construct anything your mind can come up with from grand buildings, to ships, farms and spacecraft. Anything you can think of has already probably been created including full recreations of everything from Lord or the Rings to Harry Potter! The distinguishing feature of Minecraft is it’s sharp edges. Everything is made to fit into the shape of a block. There are no circles, slopes or curves. So when I describe Selmun Palace as ‘Malta’s Real Life Minecraft Castle’ I am referring to its blocky design and sharp edges.
Never say this blog isn’t education 😉
Becca finds makes friends in front of the palace.
An alternative view of Selmun Palace 😉
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Useful Tools for Booking Your Sabbatical
I always use Skyscanner or Agoda alongside Google Flights to make sure I’ve got the best price. I use Google Flights to save a route and monitor price changes and a combination of Skyscanner and Agoda to get the cheapest tickets.
If you are in the UK I would also highly recommend signing up for Jack’s Flight Club to get incredible flight deals sent to your email inbox every week.
When booking accommodation I always start with Booking.com as they generally have the best range and prices. I also regularly use Airbnb for longer stays and apartments in cities (use this link for £25 off your first stay). For a different experience try signing up to Housecarers for free house-sitting opportunities (get 10% off membership with this link).
Travel insurance might seem like an unnecessary cost, but when a flight gets cancelled, injury occurs or you damage a piece of gear you’ll regret not paying in advance. I’ve used World Nomads for two sabbaticals and (after badly damaging a hire car in Laos!) found the claim process to be simple and transparent.
Getting from the airport to your destinations is an added stress after a tiring flight, so take the guesswork out and pre-book with JayRide.com. Their prices often beat the local taxis and I've found them to be reliable and easy to use.