As in other Catholic countries, Malta had its Inquisition, or Holy Office established here in 1574 shortly after the Council of Trent, for the purpose of suppressing heresy.
The Grand Master, the Bishop and the inquisitor had their own court and jurisdiction over their respective territories. The inquisitors Palace in Main Gate Street, Vittoriosa, had its origin in the Norman period, and it had served as the Castillania or Court of Justice.
In 1574, Mgr P. Duzzina, Apostolic Delegate and first inquisitor in Malta, enlarged the building to its present size and made it the seat of the Holy Office. Sixty-two inquisitors, usually members of the Dominican Order, resided in the Palace. Twenty-five of them became Cardinals of the Church. Inquisitors Fabio Chigi and Antonio Pignatelli became Popes and took the names of Alexander Vll (1655-1667) and Innocent Xll (1691-1700)
The inquisition was suppressed for good in 1798 by Napoleon Bonaparte soon after the islands conquest by the French. The inquisitor's Palace was restored in 1966. The interior of this ancient palace is impressive. The main hall has a timber ceiling and a frieze of painted coat-of-arms of all the inquisitors serving in Malta . considerable interest are the tribunal chamber and its adjacent chapel with their original fittings, and the prisoners' cells and dungeon, with graffiti inscribed by the inmates.
The Palace has now been converted into a museum. Exhibits include antique furniture, old household utensils, tools and implements, religious accessories and a variety of curios relating to ancient customs, crafts, trades and other activities of the past.
Text courtesy of the National Tourism Organisation - Malta.