Since the enfeoffment of Emperor Charles V in 1530, Malta was the influence area of the Order of St John, which later evolved into the sovereign Maltese Order of Knights, who found their retreat here after the exodus from Palestine (1291) and Rhodes (1522). Following the successful repulsion of the Turkish siege troops by the Knights of the Order in 1566, their Grand Master Jean Parisot de la Valette (1494-1568) decided to reconstruct the demolished fortress of St. Elmo and additionally build a completely new fortress city in the Western extension of the peninsula, today’s Valletta. Financial support was promised by the Spanish King Phillip II. (1527-1598), but above all, Pope Pius V (1504-15729). Pius V also dispatched his best military engineer Francesco Laparelli (1521-1570) to Malta to realize the project. The city was designed as the most modern city in the world, both from a military strategic and representative point of view. Logistics, infrastructure, water supply and the entire disposal followed a very sophisticated concept. The road layout was designed as a chessboard, taking into account the supply of fresh air. After Laparelli left the island again in 1568, his Adlatus Gerolarmo Cassar continued the work. During this period, the Palazzinos in the Strada Pia, which is managed by the European Heritage Project today, was also built. This road connected the Eastern and Western parts of the peninsula and was named after Pope Pius V as an acknowledgement of his support. The Palazzino itself was located near the South-West St. Peter and St. Paul bastions as well as close to the land access to Valletta. Only a few steps away were the Lower Barrakka Gardens, which were established as a recreation room for the Knights of the Order in 1661. From the Palazzino itself one gained a strategic view of the big harbour, Fort San Angelo and the Southern sea passages. By the end of the 17th century, Pierre de Roussillon, Knight of the Sovereign Order of Malta, was able to acquire the buildings following the payment of his inheritance and the mediation of the Order. Alongside his other duties, Roussillon succeeded in establishing trade links with his homeland in the following years, which provided him with a sense of prosperity. He arranged for the building to be extended to three floors and made alterations to the façade.
With the surrender of the Order to the Napoleonic Fleet in 1798, the descendants of Roussillon were also forced to leave Malta. The Strada Pia was renamed Rue de la Fèlicité Publique according to the revolutionary doctrine. After the French interregnum ended two years later, the street received its popular name Strada del Gran Falconiere, which indicated the falcon breeding that took place here. One of the results of the First Paris Peace of 1814 was Malta’s establishment of the English Crown Colony. In the course of an Anglization campaign after the First World War, the street was renamed Britannia Street in 1927. It was not until after gaining independence in 1964 that it was given its present name Melita Street, alluding to the Bronze Age town of Melite, which is a relic under the central city of Mdina.
The entire historic old town of Valletta has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1980.