Nestled on the enchanting island of Malta, the ancient city of Mdina and its neighboring town, Rabat, beckon travelers with their rich history, cultural treasures, and captivating charm. Known as the Silent City, Mdina is a fortified medieval marvel with narrow winding streets and ancient architecture that transports visitors back in time. With its narrow streets, ancient architecture, and rich history, Mdina exudes a captivating charm that transports visitors back in time to an enchanting world of the past. Let’s embark on a journey to explore the allure of Mdina and discover the hidden gems of Rabat in this comprehensive travel guide.
Brief History of Mdina, the old capital city
Mdina’s history dates back over 4,000 years, making it one of Europe’s oldest continuously inhabited cities. Originally settled by the Phoenicians, it was later ruled by the Romans, Arabs, and Normans, each leaving an indelible mark on its character. The city became the capital of Malta until the arrival of the Knights of St. John in 1530 when the capital moved to Valletta. Today, Mdina is the old capital city and stands as a living testament to the island’s diverse and storied past.
How to Get from Valletta to Mdina
Getting from Valletta to Mdina is easy and takes approximately 30 minutes by car. Alternatively, you can hop on a bus from the Valletta bus terminal, and the scenic journey will lead you to the entrance of the Silent City. Malta’s silent city Mdina is a must-see!
Mdina: Things to Do and See
The Beauty of the “Silent City” of Mdina
As you enter Mdina, this ancient walled city, through its imposing Main Gate, you’ll instantly feel transported to another era. The city’s silent and serene atmosphere, devoid of cars, invites you to leisurely explore its streets. Admire the beautiful architecture of the noble houses and churches, and soak in the panoramic views of Malta’s countryside from Bastion Square.
Travel Back in Time at Palazzo Falson
Palazzo Falson, also known as the Norman House, is a fascinating museum that takes visitors on a journey through time. Explore the grand rooms, adorned with intricate art and antiques, and learn about the life of the former owner, Captain Olof Gollcher, an avid collector and philanthropist.
Be Blown Away by the View at Bastion Square
For breathtaking vistas, head to Bastion Square, perched on the fortified walls of Mdina. As the sun sets over the island, the views become truly magical, making it an ideal spot for memorable photographs.
Visit the Mdina Dungeons Museum
Delve into the darker side of Mdina’s history at the Mdina Dungeons Museum. Here, interactive exhibits and lifelike figures recreate chilling scenes from the city’s past, providing a spine-chilling experience.
Vilhena Palace: National Museum of Natural History
Located in Rabat, just outside Mdina’s walls, Vilhena Palace houses the National Museum of Natural History. Discover Malta’s rich natural heritage, from fossils to taxidermy exhibits, making it an engaging visit for both adults and children.
Visit Domus Romana Archaeological Museum
Step back into Roman times at the Domvs Romana Archaeological Museum. Unearthed in the early 20th century, this ancient Roman townhouse boasts impressive mosaics and frescoes, offering a glimpse into daily life during that era.
St. Paul’s Cathedral Museum
Within Mdina’s magnificent St. Paul’s Cathedral, you’ll find a treasure trove of religious artifacts and artworks in its museum. Marvel at the intricate sculptures and paintings that span centuries of art history.
Enter Mdina Through the Main Gate
One of the most memorable ways to arrive in Mdina is through its grand Main Gate, which visitors into the heart of the city. As you pass through this historic entrance, you’ll immediately sense the unique ambiance that sets Mdina apart from other destinations.
Explore St Paul’s Catacombs
Just a stone’s throw away from Mdina, St. Paul’s Catacombs in Rabat are a fascinating underground network of ancient burial grounds. There are not the same with the Roman catacombs but you can explore the intricate passageways and chambers that date back to Roman times, providing insight into Malta’s early Christian history.
Palazzo Gatto Murina
Located within the old town of Rabat, Palazzo Gatto Murina is a historic building with a fascinating past. While not open to the public, its exterior exudes charm and allure, making it a captivating sight during your explorations.
St. Roque’s Chapel
Nestled in the heart of Rabat, St. Roque’s Chapel is a small yet striking place of worship. Admire its Baroque architecture and intricate frescoes, which offer a glimpse into the island’s religious and artistic traditions.
heck Out the Interior of the Church of the Annunciation of Our Lady
While exploring Rabat, be sure to step inside the Church of the Annunciation of Our Lady. The church’s interior is adorned with beautiful artwork and religious artifacts, showcasing Malta’s rich ecclesiastical heritage.
Domus Romana (Roman Villa)
Unearth the secrets of the Domus Romana, a Roman villa located in Rabat. Its well-preserved mosaics and historical artifacts provide a fascinating insight into Roman life on the island.
Visit the Dingli Cliffs
When exploring Rabat, don’t miss the opportunity to visit the nearby Dingli Cliffs, which offer spectacular panoramic views of the Mediterranean Sea. The cliffs are also a popular spot for hikers and nature enthusiasts, offering picturesque walking trails along the coastline.
Located in the heart of Rabat, the Archbishop’s Palace is a majestic building with a rich history. While the palace itself is not open to the public, the beautiful gardens and façade are worth a visit.
Stay in Mdina After Dusk
To experience Mdina’s true magic, consider staying overnight within its ancient walls. As the day-trippers leave, the city takes on a serene ambiance, perfect for romantic walks through its illuminated narrow streets. Mdina is considered to be a ghost town!
Knights of Malta and Mdina: A Timeless Bond
The Knights of Malta, also known as the Knights Hospitaller, once called Mdina home. Their presence left an indelible mark on the city, evident in its architecture and rich history. Explore the enduring bond between the Knights of Malta and the captivating city of Mdina.
St. Paul and Mdina: A Spiritual Connection
Mdina holds a significant place in the story of St. Paul, the apostle who introduced Christianity to Malta. Tradition holds that he sought refuge in Mdina after surviving a shipwreck on the island. As you explore the city, you’ll encounter historical landmarks and religious sites linked to his presence. St. Paul’s Cathedral, a majestic Baroque masterpiece, stands as a poignant reminder of his influence. Discover the spiritual connection between St. Paul and Mdina as you delve into the city’s history and religious heritage.The Magnificent City Walls of Mdina
As you visit Mdina, you’ll be greeted by the impressive city walls that encircle this ancient gem. These fortifications, dating back to medieval times, stand as a testament to Mdina’s strategic importance throughout history. Walking along the well-preserved walls offers a unique perspective of the city’s layout and provides stunning vistas of the surrounding countryside. The city walls not only served as a defense mechanism but also contribute to the timeless charm that envelops the Silent City. Embrace the allure of the fortified past as you stroll atop the city walls, immersing yourself in the grandeur and heritage of Mdin
Final Thoughts on Things to Do in Mdina, Malta
Mdina and Rabat are gems that unveil the rich history and cultural heritage of Malta. From exploring Malta’s Silent City’s ancient narrow streets to discovering hidden museums and archaeological wonders, this duo promises an unforgettable journey into the past. So, pack your bags and embark on a mesmerizing adventure through the heart of Malta’s historical treasures.
Where to Stay in Valletta
If you’re planning to visit both Valletta (the capital city) and Mdina, staying in the capital city of Valletta is a convenient option. Valletta offers a wide range of accommodation, from luxury hotels to cozy guesthouses, and it’s well-connected to Mdina by public transport or taxi.
Looking for Tours and Excursions in Malta and Gozo?
For those seeking guided tours and excursions in Malta and its sister island, Gozo, there are numerous options to choose from. Local tour operators offer diverse experiences, from historical city tours to adventurous outdoor activities, providing a deeper understanding of these captivating Mediterranean destinations.
Our Top Travel Resources
If you’re planning a trip to Malta and need help with logistics, accommodation, or finding the best places to dine, check out our top travel resources to ensure a seamless and memorable vacation.
Mdina (the Silent City) and Rabat offer an enticing blend of history, culture, and scenic beauty. Whether you’re an architecture enthusiast, a history buff, or a nature lover, these charming destinations in Malta have something to captivate every traveler. As you wander through the medieval streets of Mdina or explore the Roman ruins in Rabat, you’ll find yourself enchanted by the island’s timeless allure. Embrace the serenity of the Silent City and uncover the hidden treasures of Rabat for an unforgettable journey through Malta’s historical wonders.
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