The photographs and scans in the following biography were kindly provided by the author, from items in the family's possession: for example, the author tells us that he made an imprint of his great-great-grandfather's seal in sealing wax, in order to take the picture of his cipher. Other pictures that he provided appear in accounts of Galizia's work elsewhere in this section. His permission should be sought for reproductions of any of these. [Click on all the images to enlarge them.] — Jacqueline Banerjee

Left: ELG as a young man. Right: ELG as Superintendent of Public Works.

Emmanuele Luigi Galizia (ELG) was probably the most prolific and important architect in nineteenth-century Malta, where he was born on 7 November 1830. Family lore indicates that the family name originated from the northern Spanish region of Galicia; however, his grandfather moved to Malta from Marseilles in the previous century. ELG joined the Civil Service as a junior surveyor in 1845 under William Arrowsmith Lamb and gradually climbed his way up through the Service until he was made Chief Land Surveyor in the then amalgamated Department of Land Revenue and Public Works. He continued to occupy this position with distinction, for both the local and Imperial governments, until, on the recommendation of Sir Penrose Julyan, who was appointed by the Secretary of State for the Colonies to report upon the Civil Service of Malta generally, the Public Works Department received a separate and independent existence. At that point, ELG was created the first Superintendent of Public Works with a seat on the executive and legislative councils. In this newly created position, ELG had much to contend with: the organisation of an important department required much tact, ability and prudence, which ELG did not fail to display. For example, he displayed great tact and diplomacy on one of his earliest projects — the Ta' Braxia Cemetery. This was a Anglican/Protestant chapel and was fiercely opposed in Catholic Malta, But by balancing all points-of-view, he eventually saw the project through (although the design of the chapel was by J. L. Pearson and not ELG, ELG managed the project locally on behalf of the British architect). Within a few months of his appointment as Superintendent of Public Works, he set the Department in a thorough working order and for this, he was frequently eulogised by successive Governors, notably by Field Marshall Sir Lintorn Simmons and by Sir Walter Hely-Hutchinson, who was then Lieutenant Governor and Chief Secretary to Government.

Imprint of Emanuels Galizia's cipher.

During his lengthy period of service, ELG designed and carried out many works of great importance, such as the doubling of Victoria Gate and its approaches; the doubling of St. Anne’s Gate (since demolished); the opening and construction of new roads throughout the island; the marbling of the Parlance Corridors in the Grandmaster's Palace; the increase in water supply with the erection of fountains in various parts of the island; the extension of the Grand Harbour engineering works; the valuation of the French Creek with its surrounding buildings previous to their acquisition by and transference to the Admiralty, and so on.

The Addolorata Chapel seen from the rear, with the Galizia himself (just perceptible) sitting on the steps by the east window).

However, his most enduring and best known works relate to his architectural buildings and projects, perhaps the most famous being the Addolorata Cemetery, with all its adjoining grounds and approaches. For this, ELG undertook a European tour to visit other cemetery developments that were taking place at that time, particularly those in Naples, Paris and London (although Glasgow has also been mentioned). This was during the same period of major cemetery development outside the dense urban areas across Europe, with a similar practice being adopted in Malta, although on a much smaller scale and in fewer numbers (such as the "Magnificent Seven" London cemeteries, Père Lachaise and Cimitière du Nord). Interestingly, family tradition infers that he gave advice as well as seeking it — specifically, on Tower Bridge in London (completed in 1894), and the Victorian restoration works at the Brighton Pavilion, although detailed information of any such input is sketchy at best.

ELG was very versatile and could design in whatever style was required, although he is best known for his Neo-Gothic structures the (Addolorata Cemetery Chapel, the Our Lady of Lourdes Chapel, and the Carmelite Church, for example). However, he also produced works in other styles, notably the French Neo-Classical style (such as the Istituto Tecnico Bugeja), and the Moorish/Ottoman/Mughal style (such as the Ottoman Cemetery and Alhambra house). In fact, the Ottoman Military Cemetery has been referred to as the Taj Mahal of the Mediterranean.

ELG’s medals: Left: The Order of St. Gregory the Great. Right: The Order of the Medjidie.

In the course of his professional career, ELG was elected Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers and Fellow of the Royal Institution of British Architects. He was also appointed President of the Malta section of the Indian and Colonial Exhibition of 1886 and the samples of geological strata of the two islands, which are still preserved in the Public Library in glass shows and which formed part at this Exhibition in London, were all due to his researches. Following the design and construction of the Ottoman Military Cemetery, ELG was endowed with the Order of the Medjidie by the Sultan of Turkey, Abdul Aziz. Similarly, ELG was endowed with the Order of St. Gregory the Great by Pope Leo XIII for his various religious structures.

A number of personal effects of ELG are still in existence, apart from the medals indicated above. These include a set of drawings, instruments and buttons from the uniform of Superintendent of Public Works. The sword, hat and epaulettes forming part of the same uniform are known to still exist, although access to them is not possible.

ELG was also commissioned by the Imperial Government to visit Cyprus soon after the British occupation of the island and report upon its possible colonisation. The first visit was made in conjunction with Sir Adrian Dingli and Professor Schinas; subsequently he travelled in the company of Marquis Testaferrata Olivier. The reports of the visits and surveys were printed and published under the authority of the Government at the time.

Although ELG retired in 1888, he did not remain idle: he continued to work and take interest in all that concerned the island, and was always ready to provide advice when requested, both in a professional line and otherwise. He was also an examiner at the faculty of civil engineering at the University of Malta.

Plans for the mortuary chapel, with the architect's own handwriting. [Matthew Gauci, in another context, mentions that the carvings of drawing instruments on the triangular pediment of this mausoleum are Masonic in nature (145). — JB]

Up to his final weeks, ELG was in fairly good health; but within the last fortnight or so, complications set in, which, at his advanced age, proved fatal. He passed away peaceably on May 5th 1907 at his residence, 64, Piazza Celsi, Valletta (now Independence Square; his house is adjacent to St. Paul's Anglican Cathedral, designed by William Scamp) at 13:30 hours, with his funeral being held the following day in Valletta. He was laid to rest in his own mortuary chapel, designed by himself as part of his masterpiece, the Addolorata Cemetery.


Gauci, Matthew. "New Light on Webster Paulson and His Architectural Idiosyncracies." Proceedings of History Week (1981): 137-149.

Created 9 May 2017