Places to Visit in Malta - Mdina - The Walled City.
If you're off to Malta then visit Mdina, the ancient walled city. Malta is a country full of walled cities, but none rival the splendid grandeur of Mdina. It is one of the oldest fortress settlements on the island and its origins date back almost thirty centuries. From its central and elevated position it has watched over the surrounding countryside, like a white knight on guard against Malta's invading enemies, for just under three thousand long years.
Inhabitants of Mdina, Malta's Ancient Capital City
Mdina's first inhabitants were the Pheonicians, sea-trading merchants from the country of Syria, who brought purple cloth dye to the Greeks and left the skilled Maltese craftsmen with the legacy of producing delicate works of fine art in glass.
Mdina, always the capital and stronghold of Malta, is in main part built from limestone lifted from the local quarries. In later times the Romans occupied Mdina and the ruling governor of the era built his palace within the city boundaries. But it was the eleventh century Norman conquistadors of Malta who built the encircling wall around the city and left the natural honey-tone of the wall's stones to bleach whiter under the strength of the Mediterranean sun.
Knights of Malta
The sixteenth century brought the Knights of the Order of St John to add their indelible touch to the already ancient city. Malta was gifted to the Order by the King of Spain in the sixteenth century as a permanent base for the previously nomadic Knights while they maintained their crusades in the Holy Lands. The Knights, during their three hundred year stay on Malta, were responsible for the building of many sanctuaries, caring for the sick and of constructing the city Valletta which is known as the capital of Malta today. Ousted by Napoleons invading forces, the Knights relinquished their long hold on Mdina and on Malta itself in the eighteenth century.
St Paul's Cathedral
Many places in Malta are characterized with the vestiges of the great St Paul and inside the city of Mdina, the cathedral is dedicated to the spot where he reputedly lived after shipwrecking on the Maltese rocks. Not far from Mdina and the spires of the church dedicated to his name, in the neighbouring town of Rabat, are the catacombs used during the Roman rule when worshipping Christianity was prohibited.
Apart from the cathedral, there is a Benedictine monastery and a natural history museum, but something seriously not to be missed are the dungeons. Down in the dank, dark depths of Mdina the past will turn into reality and history will become a thing of the living present. With representations of public hangings, dying plague victims, inquisitional tortures, crucifixions and beheadings, what more could you ask for? Mdina's dungeon are not for the faint hearted … don't miss it!
Mdina - Malta
After such a varied history Mdina's walls have become impregnated with history. In these modern times Mdina is a monument to her past and known as the “silent city”. No cars or other traffic are permitted within the labyrinth of narrow winding streets. Today Mdina's inhabitants number less than five hundred and it's a quiet place of eerie mystery to wander through and contemplate its vivid and varied past.
Xara Palace – The only hotel in Mdina.
If staying in such a select and quiet atmosphere sounds attractive, although Mdina is ninety nine percent residential, there is one hotel inside the quiet walls of the city. The Xara Palace, built in the seventeenth century and originally the home of a local noble family, has been renovated to perfection and welcomes guests . The hotel's rooms and suites are filled with genuine Maltese antiquities of the bygone ages which are a delight to see. With the select, high class restaurant, de Mondion on the premises as well, there's really not much more a guest could ask for.