Malta’s most mysterious city. Silent Mdina.

O Mdina! – an excursion into the depths of time

Mdina is a 4,000-year-old city, formerly the political center of Malta. Fortified by bastions that no invader has ever been able to conquer, Mdina, or as it is called the “Silent City”, is devoid of modernity and the accompanying rush and bustle, and is filled with buildings with unique architecture that mix medieval and baroque styles, surrounded by narrow cobblestone streets

The full article is HERE and under the catom The main gate of the city was reconstructed in 1724. The moat in front of the fortress wall was landscaped

The main gate of the city was built only a few meters from the old city gate (walled in on the right)

Above the gate is the coat of arms of the Grand Master. Here the “Universita” (city government) met the newly elected magisters and asked them to confirm the rights of the city of Mdina to freedoms and self-government. Only then were the magisters given the symbolic keys to the city.

On the back of the gate are three figures looking out over the city: St. Agatha, St. Paul and the Maltese bishop Publius

According to popular belief, the apostle Paul, sometime around A.D. 60, was shipwrecked off the coast of Malta on his way from Palestine to Rome. The Apostle Paul is considered to be the originator of Christianity in Malta: he met the then Roman governor Publius (later canonized), converted him to Christianity and appointed him the first bishop of Malta. According to legend, during the persecution of Christians initiated by the Roman Emperor Decius Trajan in the middle of the 3rd century A.D., St. Agatha fled Sicily and took refuge in Malta. She later returned to Sicily, where she was arrested, tortured and then burned. Saint Agatha is the patroness of Mdina

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St. Paul’s Cathedral

St. Paul’s Cathedral is considered the architectural crown of the city. Built at the end of the 17th century, this masterpiece by the Maltese architect Lorenzo Gafa is in the Baroque style and stands on the spot where a Norman church once stood, destroyed by an earthquake in 1693.

The facade of the building is decorated with two bell towers with clocks, one of which is a kind of calendar

In the Bible it is testified that the governor of the island of Milita (as Malta used to be called) gave St Paul and his companions an unusually warm welcome after the shipwreck. For three days he received them in his house, for which the apostle Paul healed his seriously ill father by laying on of hands, after which many of the islanders, hearing of the miracle, came to Paul and were also healed.

Palazzo Villena (now the Museum of Natural History)

St. Paul’s Square

St. Sophia Palace

St. Sophia’s Palace, the oldest preserved building in Mdina (built in XII century)

In the background – the Carmelite Church and the Carmelite convent

The bell of the Carmelite Church

In the squares, streets and alleys of the city

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The distinctive architectural style of Mdina can be felt in just about everything, starting from the door handles – they deserve a separate discussion among fans

A modern cafe surrounded by the Middle Ages. There’s something unnatural about this juxtaposition, even though the colors of the Cathedral’s dome and the domes of the umbrellas match.

The houses in Bastion Square

Each building is usually named after a saint. When giving the address, in addition to the city, street and house number, it is necessarily specified

Mdina, surrounded by a fortress wall, is located on a hilltop in the center of the island. As early as the 1000s BC, Maltese settlers built a wall around the hilltop in central Malta and named the village “Malé” or “Refuge”. Then the Catholics arrived and transformed this small settlement into a large city and renamed it Melita. In the 9th century, when the Arabs arrived in Malta, the town was renamed Mdina which in Arabic means ‘walled city’.

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If you climb the fortress wall (appreciate how thick it is!), you’ll get a great view of the Maltese landscape.

From here you can see the surrounding towns – Valletta, Floriana, Attard, Birkirkara, San Guann, Mosta

The town of Mosta

The largest on the island and one of the largest in the world, the dome of the Church of the Virgin Mary, built in 1860

Leaving the city-fortress, we climbed up a fairly narrow road, and only here we felt that Mdina is a lively and living city: the cars were scurrying just inches from the passers-by. Today in Mdina live only a few hundred people, all of them – representatives of the oldest families of Malta

Not far from the “new” gate grows an old ficus that has woven its trunk into an amazing loop

“Reporting with a noose around its neck.”

Two pairs of gates lead into town: the Main Gate and the Greek Gate. In the 1930s, locals made another passage in the wall to make it closer and more convenient to get to the train station, now the New (West) Gate, – through them we went out

The other part of the city remaining behind the wall was called Rabat.

Today the two cities of Mdina and Rabat are separated by a park.

Nearby is a children’s playground.

Glassblowers, masters of their trade, have lived in the villages around Mdina for centuries. Factory-made crockery clearly wins the battle with individual creativity

Nevertheless, Mdina is known around the world for its glassware in a unique style. It is easily recognized for its use of incredible colors and unusual design.

From Valletta to Mdina is a half-hour bus ride. The impression is that you go through one big city – small towns flow smoothly into each other, there are no borders between them.

However, “find ten differences” between the cities is possible.

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Malta’s most mysterious city. Silent Mdina.

The ancient capital of Malta has many names. In Arabic, its name was Medina, and in Greek history, the place comes up under the name Melita. Today, this ancient and mysterious Maltese town bears the name of Mdina. However, locals call it “The Silent City”.

Malta's most mysterious city. Silent Mdina - Photo 2

Malta’s most mysterious city. Silent Mdina


The future capital was built in the Bronze Age on the site of a fortified settlement of ancient people. The city was situated on a hill, from where it was clearly visible from almost every corner of the island. This is partly why almost all trade routes passed through Mdina (Melita at that time). Over the years, it has become the heart not only of Malta’s trade, but also of its political life. It is worth noting that Christianity has flourished in Mdina since ancient times. The city’s main temple is named after the Apostle Paul, who is said to have been shipwrecked off the Maltese coast.

Malta's most mysterious city. Silent Mdina - Photo 3

Malta’s most mysterious city. Silent Mdina

At the end of the ninth century, the city was invaded by Saracens. To protect it from such invaders, the capital was sealed off from all nearby settlements by a moat, and huge walls were built all around it. It is from the Saracens came the name Mdina, which translates as “city within the walls”. In 1963, a major earthquake destroyed most of Mdina. But the city had already ceased to be Malta’s capital. Perhaps that’s why it was rebuilt by followers of the Order of Malta only a few decades later.


The ancient capital is today one of Malta’s most visited places. Independent tourism to these places is as popular as organized excursions since Mdina can be reached by direct bus from the airport. Locals have long been accustomed to the large number of tourists and are always ready to help you choose the right flight. By the way, going to Malta on your own you should remember that the probability to meet a person who knows English is very low.

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The most mysterious city of Malta. Silent Mdina - Photo 4

Malta’s most mysterious city. Silent Mdina

Passing the main gate of Mdina, before your eyes opens a surprising world of “modern” Middle Ages. The houses and buildings are all still intact, save for the appearance of store signs or house numbers. Typically, most tourists go straight to the most horrific part of town. To the right of the main gate is the staircase that leads to the Dungeon of Mdina . It is now called the Museum of Torture. There are writings on the walls, neck braces and a platform for burning witches. It’s all left over from when Mdina was still considered the capital of Malta. Next, the tourist route leads to the palace of Kassa Testaferrata, which is still residential today. The only other attraction built in the 21st century is the Wax Museum. It is located in the Palazzo Constanzo .

Every house in this ancient city can be considered a museum. And the most amazing thing is that people still live in Mdina. The population of the city according to the data of 2018 is 306 people. All families live in ancient houses and let curious tourists into their homes for a modest fee. Every day the ancient Maltese capital is visited by thousands of tourists from all over the world, but despite this, its walls, as before, keep their secrets. Perhaps that’s why it’s called the ‘silent city’.

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