Attractions
17 evocative photos of Mdina that show off how truly grand it is
The Silent City of Mdina has never looked so charming

Melanie Drury

Mdina, dubbed the Silent City, has its origins in a very distant past, so distant that its exact origins are unknown. Archaeological finds in the area attribute the first settlement to the Bronze Age, when people moved from the coast to higher ground, where attacks from pirates posed less of a threat. Today, it stands magnificent, its very existence a testimony to a colourful history of the island that lives on today.

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Known history tells of Phoenician settlers first establishing the settlement as a city by the name of Maleth. The Romans renamed it Melite and the Byzantine occupation reduced its size and called it Medina. During the medieval period, the city served as the capital of the Maltese Islands until the Knights of Malta made Birgu the administrative centre; they later built the current capital of Valletta. The walled city of Mdina, with a population of just under 300, retains an evident medieval character embellished with Baroque features.

Arriving at the city gate, which has been altered in time, one gets a feeling of being transported into the likes of the Game of Thrones. Indeed, the gate has been featured as the entrance to King's Landing in episode three of the first season.

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On entering the city, one thing immediately becomes clear: imposing magnificent buildings are an evident feature of this extraordinary place. No detail was spared when it came to designing its beautiful architecture. One thing is sure - they don't make cities like this anymore.

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The ornate balconies, decorated windows and intricate details of the great stone buildings are delightful. The warm pinkish hue of the limestone simply adds to the charm.

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Here and there, something extraordinary stands out, such as this wonderfully unique Gothic house that's actually somebody's private residence. Can you imagine living in a house like this? 

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As if that weren't grand enough, the house is located in St Paul's Square, right next door to the wonderful St Paul's Cathedral. The Cathedral, dating from the 12th century and built on the site where Roman governor Publius met shipwrecked St Paul, was  rebuilt by the Knights in a Baroque style designed by Maltese architect Lorenzo Gafà following severe damage from an earthquake in 1693. 

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The interior of the masterpiece is just as awesome, with elaborate paintings and gold decoration. The floor of the Cathedral is made up entirely of marble mosaic marking the tombs of prominent Knights.

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Further along, the charm of Mdina's narrow winding streets is immediately evident. Weathered limestone walls meet niches of saints, and it all gains a particular charm at night when it is lit up in a golden hue. This precise spot marks the famous Fontanella Tea Garden, which is famous for its delicious cakes (particularly the chocolate cake) and marvellous views over the bastions.

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The night and early morning certainly lend a particular mood to the city streets, while these bastion walls provoke the imagination of Mdina under seige

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The daytime, however, brings a warm hue that spells nothing but charm. Maltese balconies, pregnant wrought iron windows and old-style lanterns do everything to evoke on an air of romance.

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Capture the scene in black and white photography and this horse-drawn carriage transports your mind to another time.

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This arch, paved street, peeling paint and street lanterns are downright evocative of the mystery of bygone times.

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There's something in every detail that simply captures the imagination.

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And some details, such as this famous blue door with the pink bougainvillea wrapping around the round window, capture everybody's interest. This is hands down one of Malta's top Instagrammed locations.

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Majestic palaces with intricate Baroque features...

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...contrast with timeless village scenes. 

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This is Mdina: extraordinary, majestic, timeless, beautiful. Scroll right on the arrow below to allow these images to sing her glories louder than words ever could.

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18th January 2019


Melanie Drury
Written by
Melanie Drury
Melanie was born and raised in Malta and has spent a large chunk of her life travelling solo around the world. Back on the island with a new outlook, she realised just how much wealth her little island home possesses.

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