Saint James Cavalier is a 16th-century cavalier in Valletta, Malta, which was built by the Order of St. John. It was one of nine planned cavaliers in the city, although eventually only two were built, the other one being the identical Saint John’s Cavalier. It was designed by the Italian military engineer Francesco Laparelli, while its construction was overseen by his Maltese assistant Girolamo Cassar. St. James Cavalier never saw use in any military conflict, but it played a role during the Rising of the Priests in 1775.
It was at the onset of the Second World War air-raids in Malta, that St James Cavalier reverted back to its military, defensive function. The building was viewed as a safe haven wherein the city’s residents could shelter, while the upper storey served as the Navy Army and Air Force Institute (NAAFI) shop, which provided club facilities to the British armed forces.
In the latter part of the twentieth century, the Government of Malta commissioned the preparation of a Master Plan which would address the entire rehabilitation of the area at the entrance and immediately outside Valletta – a plan which, sadly, only partly came to fruition. St James Cavalier was at the forefront of this Millennium Project, and its interior renovation fell into the responsibility of the renowned architect Dr Richard England. As a result, it had both its interior as well as its identity completely revised and reformed – as Malta’s national Centre for Creativity, now known as Spazju Kreattiv.
The cavalier is located in Castille Square, close to Auberge de Castille, the Central Bank of Malta, the Parliament House, the Malta Stock Exchange and the post office at Dar Annona.