Changing of the Guard Ceremony
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The ceremony takes place on the last Friday of every month in St. George’s Square, Valletta.
The Changing of the Guard ceremony in Valletta is a complex ritual that originated during the 17th century, when the Knights of St John ruled over Malta. The ceremony, which symbolises the formal handing-over of responsibility from one guard to another, attracts crowds of spectators in St George’s Square every month. If you happen to be in Malta on the last Friday of the month, head to Valletta in the morning to witness this centuries-old tradition for yourself.
History of the Changing of the Guard in Valletta
Unlike similar ceremonies in the UK and Monaco, the Changing of the Guard in Valletta is rooted in a ritual initiated by the Order of the Knights of St John, who ruled over Malta between 1530 and 1798. The ceremony has always taken place in front of the Grandmaster’s Palace in St George’s Square. In 1971, however, the Changing of the Guard ceremony stopped being performed. It was brought back by popular demand by Valletta locals after a 40 year absence. Following its reintroduction in 2010, the Changing of the Guard ceremony has resumed its monthly occurrence in this prominent square in Valletta.
The Armed Forces of Malta
Since its return, this ceremony has become an increasingly grand and complex spectacle, lasting approximately 45 minutes. It is performed by soldiers from the Armed Forces of Malta, accompanied by a military band. Kicking off at around 10:00hrs, the ceremony begins with the military band and the new guard marching down Republic Street towards St George’s Square in Valletta. The new guard marches out of the Main Guard building, originally named Guardia della Piazza, which was built by the Knights in 1603. Simultaneously, the old guard marches out of the Grandmaster’s Palace, located in the same square. Then, facing each other, the two guards present arms and perform the exchange of duties.