valletta - mediterranean conference centre

The Mediterranean Conference Centre – The Sacra Infermeria

  • Sep 4, 2022

The Sacra Infermeria served many purposes...

The Mediterranean Conference Centre is undoubtedly Malta’s go-to conference centre. Built by the Order of St John in the 16th century as a hospital, it was converted into a conference centre in 1979, which is still its main function today. Interested in learning more about this historical institution? Keep reading.

The Mediterranean Conference Centre’s history as The Sacra Infermeria 

The Holy Infirmary, or Sacra Infermeria was commissioned by Grand Master Jean de la Cassière on 7 November 1574. Construction of the newly commissioned hospital began later that year. The hospital was meant to receive both Maltese as well as foreign patients. It was also intended to serve as a shelter for pilgrims on their way to the Holy Land. 

Grand Master Raphael Cotone was responsible for expanding the infirmary and adding more wards. During his brother Nicolas Cotoner’s reign, a School of Anatomy and Surgery and a dissection room were also added. 

When Napoleon Bonaparte and the French army occupied Malta in 1979, they improved sanitation and ventilation and generally modernized it. It was also converted into a military hospital to care for sick and wounded French soldiers. But the hospital soon met its demise when the Maltese rioted against the French. Medical supplies were few and far between, leading to a surge in scurvy, intestinal diseases and phthisis. 

It wasn’t until the British that the Sacra Infermeria was restored to its former state. It maintained its position as a military hospital for wounded British soldiers and played a key role in the Napoleonic Wars, the Crimean War and the First World War. The hospital ended its medical legacy in 1918, shortly after World War I.

Post World War I

In the years after World War I, the Sacra Infermeria served many purposes. It was the official headquarters of the Malta Police Force, became a command hall for the Allied troops, an examination centre and a children’s theatre. It was finally restored in 1978, with the restored building inaugurated in 1979. 

Since then, it has served as a conference centre and was renamed “Mediterranean Conference Centre.” It has a multitude of impressive spaces that combine the grandeur of the original building with modern amenities such as audio-visual equipment and a state-of-the-art kitchen. It covers more than 8,000 square meters and has an auditorium for 1,400 people. 

Key moments at the Mediterranean Conference Centre

The Mediterranean Conference Centre (MCC) has hosted hundreds of important events and conferences. Key moments include Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat in 2011, the Malta Police 200th Anniversary Concert in 2014, the Valletta Summit on Migration and the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in 2015, the Junior Eurovision Song Contest in 2016 and Cirque de Soleil in 2019.