Mdina – The Jewel of Malta

January 28, 2016 12:00 pm

Palaces, atmospheric streets, history and baroque architecture all await you in the Mediterranean!

Malta, a former power base in the middle of the Mediterranean fought over for years is historic, but Mdina, its former capital, the jewel of the island is even more historic. This uniquely beautiful city sits high over looking the island on all sides.  Dating back thousands of years, it is immersed in history.  Originally the capital of Malta during the Arab occupation, it has had different names over the centuries depending on its rulers. One of its many names was “Citta Notabile” which means the Noble City and it best sums it up.  Its narrow streets are lined with beautiful palaces of Malta’s noble families who made Mdina their home from the 12th century.

Mdina is a fine example of a walled city with impressive mixture of architecture to include medieval and baroque with an imposing and elegant city gate entrance.   It is truly a great experience to roam the narrow streets, soaking up the atmosphere of this old city that stands from an ancient time, untouched by any modern architecture and industry.

It has a population of just over 300 people who share their lives with the influx of visitors on a daily basis.  No cars are allowed to enter the city only for the residents who carry permits. This has contributed towards its name as “The Silent City”.  Mdina is connected to the larger town of Rabat, whose name derives from an Arabic word meaning suburb, additionally a beautiful quaint town with many places of interests.

On the arrival of the Knights of St. John to Malta, the location of Mdina was not suitable to mount defences against their enemies.  The Knights decided to build a new city that became known as Valletta.  This would later become the capital of the island.  Mdina has seen many occupiers and much devastation.  In 1693 a large earthquake struck with force damaging and knocking many of its fine buildings including that of St. Paul’s Cathedral – named after the apostle St. Paul, who was ship wrecked on the island in around 60 CE.

St. Paul’s Cathedral is truly a majestic masterpiece built-in the 17th century and located right in the centre of Mdina. It graces St. Paul’s Square and its outstanding dome has inspired many painters who attempted to decorate its interior. The breath-taking Carmelite Church and Priory built between 1660 and 1675, contains the best examples of Baroque style architecture.  A different atmosphere exists in the depths of Mdina that will surely leave you with shocking and horrifying images from a forgotten time.  The Mdina Dungeons are truly a memorable and dramatic place to experience a dark time in the history of the city when crucifixion, beheading, torture, revolts, conspiracies and inquisitions were all common. Mdina is truly an impressive and unique city in Malta with its fine walls, narrow streets, magnificent buildings and a place where you can wander the streets that still reflect a time that has long since past.

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