Mdina, also known as the “Silent City” or Citta Vecchia was the former capital of Malta until the year 1530. It is a medieval walled city that was fortified by the Phoenicians around 700 BC. It has a population of about 300. It is annexed to the town of Rabat which has about 11,000 population. The name Rabat means suburb in Arabic.
When Malta was still under the rule of the Roman Empire, the Roman Governor built his palace in Mdina. The city dates all the way back to 4000 BC. I think it’s quite fascinating that nothing much has changed within the walls, save for automobiles.
The Knights of St John – Their presence in Malta was strong. One of their legacies is the 8 pointed Maltese Cross which denotes the eight obligations of the Knights. They were the defenders of Malta from the walled enclave of Mdina and there is a museum dedicated to them in Valletta that is worthy of a visit.
The population in Mdina itself is only about three hundred. The streets are really narrow, and save for the residents, no outside automobiles are allowed inside it’s walls. Permission of course, is given for wedding cars or funerals etc. It is more common to find tourists on horse drawn carriages on the very narrow streets. Sometimes, when it’s less crowded, the klippity klop of the horses’ hooves against the cobble stones is quite romantic. In the summer time, it does get quite busy, and is definitely NOT silent, but it is a must see in Malta for any one who visits.
Mdina the silent city and GOT connection:
For any “Game of Thrones” fans, the first season was filmed within these walls. It was King’s Landing, site of the Iron Throne and Red Keep. and the outside scenes filmed on the sister island of Gozo at the Azure Window. Filming was also done in Ireland. I hope you get the feeling of how peaceful it is from these images. There are lots of restaurants and cafes from where you can get marvelous views of Malta. I highly recommend Mdina for history and unique beauty.
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St. Paul’s Cathedral is supposedly built on the very spot that the then Governor Publium met with St. Paul after he got shipwrecked in the Maltese coast. The original church that stood there had fallen into ruins during the Muslim rule and was rededicated to St. Paul after the Norman conquest. It is a great example of a Baroque style cathedral. The church was rebuilt after a huge disastrous earthquake in 1693. They did a good job, and it was based on the works of a Maltese architect, Lorenzo Gafa. Of course like other cathedrals, it has been enlarged and redone several times, but this is how it looks now.
A visit to Mdina is a must for any visitor to Malta. It really is a look into the past! On those rare days that there are not too many visitors, it is delightful. Tip: If you go on the weekday, it’s much better, you get a chance for a great experience. It is way too popular on the weekends as a hangout after church to have a meal, listen to some of the performers and just people watch. Mdina a must see in Malta.
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Are you a big Game of Thrones fan? If yes, have you visited any of the filming locations? Malta is a wonderful place to get glimpses of the GOT life. Does it look inviting to you?