Tour around the Silent City Mdina

Silent City Mdina

Tour around the Silent City Mdina

This fortified medieval city is rich with Renaissance palaces, churches, honey colored walls and narrow streets. Mdina was the old capital of Malta until 1568, when the Knights of St John built the new city of Valletta. The Silent City Mdina lies on a hill, 185 meters above sea level, which makes it a city with a very good location. It is not very easy to reach and it offers very clear view of a very big part of the island. The view Mdina offers, is one of the best tourist attractions.

Short history

This city was known as Melita. It was inhabited by Greeks, Romans and probably Phoenicians, and it was extending to the center of modern Rabat. But the origins of it are lost. During the Arab period it was inhabited by a Muslim community, and they lived in the city until 1224, when they were expelled. After this period comes the rising of it mediaeval and Siculo-Norman buildings, and Mdina becomes the center of the popular town council called Universita.

For several centuries Mdina was a target for pirates and corsairs, who were attacking the unguarded coast, robbed the place and captured the islanders. This was one of the reasons for the city to become an “old deserted town”. In 1693 there was an earthquake that destroyed most of the city buildings.

Main Gate

The Mdina Gate

The Main Gate was built by Grand Master De Vilhena in 1724. The two lions are presenting Vilhena’s escutcheon. There are a Latin inscription with the date and details of the new gate, there are trophy carved in stone and decorated with triumphal symbols and the Grand Master’s arms on white marble.

The Lion Guarding The Silent City mdina
The Lion Guarding The Silent City mdina

Magisterial Palace

Museum of Natural History

This palace,that was erected in 1730 by Vilhena, is converted to a Museum of Natural History. It comes on the right side once you entered the Main Gate. It is comprised of nine sections, from which three are located on the first floor and there are some Insects, Birds and shells displayed. Then comes the section of Skeletal Anatomy Fish, Fossils, Minerals and Animals. The roof is converted to a cactus garden. There is also an aquarium and many things of Maltese origin.

Tower of the Standard

This 16 century tower, known as Torre dello Stendardo, served as a watch tower and guardian. The Knights used to send signals from Mdina to other part of the island. Today it is used as a Tourist Information Center, where you can find all the info you need.

St Paul’s Cathedral

St Paul's Cathedral

At this place, there used to be a very small church dedicated to St Paul. It is believed that he converted the Roman governor, Publius, to Christianity on that same spot. But after the big earthquake, the new cathedral was designed by Lorenzo Gafa. It was built in the baroque style. The most attractive is the outstanding dome, which was an inspiration for many painters who tried to decorate it and the whole interior of the church. That’s why many works of famous artists can be found in this cathedral.

Palazzo Falzon

This is one of the best preserved buildings, and it used to be a Norman house. It was constructed in 1495 by the Aragonese Vice-Admiral Falson, but after it was modified by many. Then comes Olaf Gollcher, a collector with interesting taste, who converted the building in a museum. Today it contains paintings, very old furniture, and collection of carpets, armor and many other things decorating all the rooms.

Greek’s Gate

The Greek gate from inside the city
The Greek gate from inside the city

There is a Greek square in the south western part of the city, and it is said that it used to be populated by a Greek colony. There is a church, dating form 1550, dedicated to St Nicholas. The Greek’s Gate is the second main gate, again embellished by Vilhena in 1725, with commemorating inscriptions, the coat of arms and an effigy of the patron of this small but wonderful city, St Paul.

There are much more things to be seen in the Silent City Mdina, today I chose the most popular one. For more info keep reading The Bohemian Style and boost your knowledge about marvelous Malta.