Mdina and Rabat
Mdina, a fortified medieval town enclosed in bastions. The impressive palaces which line its narrow, shady streets city are a mixture of Baroque and medieval architecture. It was home then, as now, to Malta’s noble families; some are descendants of the Norman, Sicilian and Spanish overlords who made Mdina their home from the 12th century.
The city was founded by Phoenician settlers in the 8th century. It was here that in 60 A.D. that the Apostle St. Paul is said to have lived after being shipwrecked on the Islands. The city’s strategic location, on top of a hill in the centre of the island, which gave it some protection from raiding pirates led to it becoming Malta’s ancient capital. This all changed in 1530 with the arrival of the seafaring Order of St John who relocated the city to the coastal town of Birgu. The city became a ghost town and caused it to be given the name the ‘silent city’. This name is also supported now as there is almost a ban on driving cars through the city (except residents).
Today Mdina is a major tourist attraction recognised internationally as an important UNESCO World Heritage Site (currently on its tentative list).
What to do in Mdina?
The main attraction of Mdina is to walk along its narrow, cobbled streets, which transport you back in time. You may follow this up with popping into one of the many museums
St Paul’s Cathedral : As you arrive into the main square in the centre of the city of Mdina, you cannot miss the Cathedral found there. Visit Website.
Knights of Malta Experience: Audiovisual 3d displays, gruesome mannequins and big screens bring alive the story of the Knights of Malta and the Great Siege of 1565. Visit Website.
Games of Thrones: For any “Game of Thrones” fans, the first season was filmed within these walls. It was used for King’s Landing, site of the Iron Throne and Red Keep.
The Mdina Experience: A one-hour long film made by the tourism board which details Mdina’s diverse history. Visit Website.
What to do in Rabat
Rabat, is the village that neighbours Mdina, the name of literally means a ‘suburb’ in Semitic, as it was once the suburb of Mdina.
The Catacombs: Rabat hosts the well-known Catacombs of St. Paul and St. Agatha.
Domvs Romana (Roman Villa): The Domvs Romana hosts the remains of a valuable Roman townhouse.
St. Paul’s Grotto: The ditch surrounding the city was full of caves that were utilised as graves by the residents. Tradition holds that the Apostle St. Paul used one of these caves as a base for his apostolic work. This grotto could thus be considered as the foundation site of the Catholic Church in Malta.
Casa Bernard: A 16th century noble palazzino restored to its pristine splendour. Visit Website.
Wignacourt Museum: This Museum was formerly the baroque residence of the Chaplains of the Knights of St. John. The museum hosts an exhibition of Punic-Roman artefacts including ceramics, pottery, portraits, sculptures and so much more. Visit Website.
Chadwick Lakes: Chadwick Lakes are are a number of dams, pouring into each other, filled by water gathering from nearby fields. They dams were built by the British Government in 1886 by Sir Oswald Chadwick and so it became known as Chadwick Lakes.