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10 Haunting Maltese ghost stories

by Mr Yellow

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Tucked away in remote corners of this warm and sunny island, you'll find places with stories that will send chills down your spine. Many of these stories are born from Malta's rich history, but beware! These are not tales of the past. Many apparitions are still being reported till this day.

If you enjoy a good dose of the supernatural, here are some of the most popular ghost stories in Malta that capture the imagination. Some take place in well-known haunted places around the island. However, others are set in less known locations. One of them could very well be your neighbour's house...

The Black Knight of Manoel Island

With a history dating back to the 1500s, Manoel Island is famed for its eerie past. Serving as a hospital during outbreaks of the plague and cholera, the Lazzaretto as it was known has had its fair brush with pain, suffering and death. In the 18th century, Portuguese Grandmaster Antonio Manoel de Vilhena built the star fort named Fort Manoel which served as an impenetrable fortification used to protect Malta’s coastline. Years later, under British rule the island was taken over by the military, serving as a hospital and housing troops for a brief spell, whereas during World War II, it was used as a naval base by the Royal Navy.

Manoel Island was badly hit during the war. When works started on the restoration of Fort Manoel, a group of Maltese and English workmen were busy clearing a heap of rubble when they spotted what looked like a knight, hovering over them. Dressed in full armour and regalia of the Order of St. John, the knight who appeared out of thin air seemed to be supervising their work. Some men noticed a similarity between this ghostly apparition and a painting of Grand Master Manoel de Vilhena, which still hangs in the President’s Palace in Valletta.

But what did the knight want? Why the sudden apparitions? Rumour has it that when the men opened a crypt beneath the chapel within the fort, they found it had been destroyed by vandals and the remains of knights buried there such as those of Charles Francois de Mondion, the architect who modified the fort’s original plans, had been scattered around. The altar and reliefs bearing the crucifix and the souls in purgatory were also damaged. When the crypt was restored and masses were carried out, the knight stopped appearing, however, he started reappearing in 1980. Once again, investigations showed that the crypt had been vandalised. Let's just hope no one disturbs the crypt again!

Lullabies in the Manoel Theatre

As the wooden stage creeks beneath the feet of actors and actresses rehearsing at the Manoel Theatre, the voice of a woman singing lullabies is sometimes heard in the background. The voice is said to be that of the mistress of Grand Master de Vilhena, who built the theatre in 1732. The theatre, Europe's third-oldest working theatre, has set the stage for many a ghost story. Amongst them are the several eyewitness accounts of people who saw a white, fog-like cloud fill Box 1, the one closest to the stage. There, some even reported seeing a shadowy figure perched in the seat, observing attentively. Performers have also heard doors being slammed open and close backstage.

Verdala Palaces’ Blue Lady

She was a young woman full of hope that one day she would find love. But when this young woman, who was the niece of Grand Master De Rohan, was promised in marriage to a suitor she did not love, she refused to marry him. Enraged by her rejection, the suitor locked her in her room at Verdala Palace. One day, the desperate girl decided to escape through the window but plummeted to her death instead. That day she was wearing a blue dress.

Since then, her troubled soul has been said to be roaming the palace. One horror story recounts how in the 1900s, the then governor of Malta, Field Marshal Lord Methuen offered his guest Howard Jones the very same room which belonged to the Blue Lady. One day, the guest asked the governor who the young, beautiful lady in blue whom he saw on numerous occasions reflected in the mirror was. Apparently, many of the palace’s staff had also seen her, while they had experienced strange happenings within the palace.

In recent years, many visitors have reported seeing her reflection in mirrors or seeing her standing on the edge of the palace balconies, her blue gown flapping in the wind. Those who attend the August Moon Ball held annually at Verdala Palace have also confirmed that the Blue Lady has appeared on numerous occasions.

The vanishing cat at the Grandmaster’s Palace

Valletta is known for its paranormal activity, myriad of abandoned, haunted buildings and the many scary stories of people who have had close encounters with the supernatural. One of the largest palazzos in the capital city, the Grandmaster’s Palace is one such place, allegedly haunted by a number of ghosts.

Originally made up of several buildings that also included the residences of some prominent knights, the Palace has served several purposes over the years and comes with its fair share of sightings. Guests who have spent the night there have reported seeing ghosts or hearing strange noises. But perhaps one of the most famous stories is that of an English lady who stayed at the palace while it was the residence of the British Governor. Whilst there, the woman was tormented by the sound of cats and dogs fighting in one of the rooms nearby. Yet, each time she would enter the room, there was nothing out of the ordinary in her utter disbelief. On one particular occasion, the woman saw a large cat jumping out of a window into the yard below where some men were working. When she asked the men about the cat’s whereabouts, they reportedly had seen no cat jump out of the window.

It is said that ghosts at the Grandmaster’s Palace take various forms, so the cat could have indeed been a ghost. Not a sinister enough story? Then read along...

Mdina’s headless bride