Let’s tour Mdina Malta – Medieval town “Silent City”
Mdina Malta was the islands capital way back medieval period. The city is still confined within its walls with a population of just under 300 people amazing right? L’Mdina means a fortified place in Arabic and was first created as such by the Romans when they separated it from the rest of the town.
Mdina Malta is one of Europe’s finest examples of an ancient walled city and extraordinary in its mix of medieval and baroque architecture. Do not be confused Mdina to “Medina” a city in the Hejaz region of the Arabian Peninsula in Saudi Arabia.
It is also known by its titles Città Vecchia or Città Notabile is a fortified city in the Northern Region of Malta. It was home then, as now, to Malta’s noble families; descendants of the Norman, Sicilian and Spanish overlords who made Mdina their home from the 12th century onwards.
Mdina remained the center of the Maltese nobility and religious authorities it has the popular nickname the “Silent City” almost a ghost town. Mdina Malta is on the tentative list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Nowadays Mdina is one of the most popular places to visit in Malta not just because of the recent Game of Thrones filmed location but because of its uniqueness of the city.
Narrow Streets of Mdina
Mdina Malta is filled with narrow streets. That is why only inhabitants are allowed to take cars within the city walls. Most streets are too narrow that it takes less than 10 minutes to walk from one end of the town to the other.
Take a self guided tour from the Vilhena Palace just inside the old city’s main gate and stroll from random turns in the maze-like alleys.
Some names of the streets in Mdina are Misrah il-Kunsill or Council Square, Pjazza San Pawl or St Paul Square, Pjazza San Publiju mostly known as St Publius Square, Pjazza tal-Arcisqof (Archbishop Square), Pjazza tas-Sur (Bastion Square), and Pjazzetta Beata Marija Adeodata Pisani (Blessed Maria Adeodata Pisani Square).
There’s also Triq Inguanez (Inguanez Street), Triq is-Sur (Bastion Street), Triq San Pawl (St Paul Street), Triq Santu Rokku (St Roch Street), and Triq Villegaignon (Villegaignon Street).
If you think that some of these streets are identical from the streets where the Game of Thrones was filmed? It’s totally normal. Because they filmed some of the episodes of the series from some of the streets of Mdina.
Gates of Mdina Malta
There are two gates into the city Mdina Gate and Greeks Gate. The Mdina is the one that you can see above, it’s one of the most famous entrance gates of the century.
Day 2 of our stay in Malta, we went for a tour in Mdina late in the morning. Arriving at the place we bumped into the other entrance of the walled city.
Instead of entering via the Main gate of the city which is “Mdina Gate” we went into the other side unconsciously. Trying to park our car in the parking area, we waited for a couple of minutes till another car left the parking to give us a space.
Generally, the plan is to visit Mdina and the places of that I’ve wanted to see. (I won’t say anything about that for now). However, this city is extraordinary in its mix of medieval and baroque architecture.
It is one of Europe’s finest examples of an ancient walled city, Impressive palaces, and narrow, shady streets.
Places to Visit in Mdina Malta
Wandering around here in Mdina you could really feel the medieval/ancient ambiance in this city. There are pretty much things to do especially for those who love to discover about Malta’s history.
There are also horse-drawn carriages if you prefer to stroll without getting tired. A half hour tour is offered and each carriage seats four people. A reminder that you must first agree on the price of the tour with the owner beforehand.
There are some reports from other tourist that the owner charges you more than what you have discussed about. So better be careful.
Some of the top places to visit aside from Mdina Gate, Greeks Gate are St. Paul’s Cathedral, Palazzo Vilhena (National Museum of Natural History), Palazzo Falson (Norman House), Cathedral Museum.
Palazzo Santa Sofia a palace in Mdina Malta, located in Villegaignon Street, across the square from the cathedral it is the oldest surviving building in the city.
Palazzo Costanzo a palace in Mdina, situated also on Villegaignon Street. It was formerly the residence of a noble Sicilian family. The Chapel of St Agatha a small Roman Catholic church located in the medieval city of Mdina Malta.
The Banca Giuratale or Municipal Palace built in to house the city’s administrative council and courts. Later used as a private residence and a school. It now houses part of the National Archives of Malta.
Torre dello Standardo a tower in Mdina, Malta, forming part of the city’s fortifications.
St. Paul’s Cathedral
According to tradition it stands on the site of where Roman governor Publius met St. Paul following his shipwreck on Malta. Founded in the 12th century this cathedral is dedicated to St. Paul the Apostle.
Its highlight is the impressive wall painting at the back of the cathedral depicting the shipwrecked of St Paul on Malta. There is an apocryphal story (from the village) that the reasoning was to have one clock which showed the correct time and one which serves to confuse the devil.
In order to enter Paul’s Cathedral, you have to get an admission ticket for it. In our case, we bought the two entries of the Cathedral Museum and St. Paul’s.
Getting inside the St. Paul’s Cathedral was quite different. First thing I have noticed was its majestic wall covered with baroque designs. The floor is covered with intricately inlaid marble gravestones belonging to Maltese aristocracy. It was totally an amazing place to visit.
After the visit to St. Paul’s Cathedral next to go is the Baroque style Cathedral Museum which houses different collections. The museum’s collection includes artworks which were formerly located in the cathedral, coins, silverware, religious vestments and some woodcuts by Albrecht Dürer.
The artist most outstanding work would be The Life of the Virgin.
Seeing all these wonderful collections of a large variety of artwork I could abundantly feel how much work the artist has given to each piece of his work.
The visit with the guide will take more or less half an hour or more. Depending if you want to stay longer to visit other expositions thoroughly.
For visiting the Cathedral or the Museum you can buy the tickets from the Cathedral Museum only a few meters away. The ticket which is a combo ticket, entitles the public to visit the Cathedral, the Museum and an exhibition at Palazzo De Piro.
Students: € 3.50
Children under 12 yrs old: FREE
Licensed group: €3.50 (Tourists’ guide free)
For more information visit the Official Site of Mdina Metropolitan Cathedral
Where to eat?
There are a bunch of pretty good restaurants in Mdina but we have chosen Don Mesquita Restaurant. They serve a fresh Maltese platter, authentic, and good value.
Wandering in the narrow streets of Mdina we stumbled into the place called Mesquita Square. Which it is famous for the specific place where another scene of Game of Thrones was filmed.
We went to this restaurant and tried their famous “Maltese Platter” which is only 15 euros for two persons. It was indeed delicious and even ate everything that they have served us.
Accompanied by some drinks and coffee afterward we spend around 25 euros for two all in all. Not bad for a late lunch.
How to reach Mdina Malta
Take Buses from Valletta (30 minutes), Sliema, and St Julians (45 minutes or longer depending on traffic).
Via Car is easier, It’ll take 20-25 minutes from Valletta. However, for searching a parking space would be a bit problematic. For this case take the other entrance of Mdina through the Greeks Gate and there wait patiently to get a parking space.
Getting in a Taxi from Valletta to Mdina would take 20 minutes but it will cost you more. € 20 and € 25 per taxi ride (one way). But if you are traveling with a group it would make it cheaper since 4 persons can ride the taxi.
If you want to know more about Mdina Malta visit MDINA’S OFFICIAL WEBSITE
Mdina Malta Tour