Attractions
Walled in! 5 of Malta’s most intriguing walls and the secrets they hide
Some secrets date back centuries!

Jillian Mallia

1. The medieval walls of Mdina

Mdina is THE finest example of an ancient walled city! An extraordinary mix of medieval and baroque architecture, Mdina has always been home to Malta’s noble families. The cobbled streets are inundated with mysteries and ghost stories of times gone by. One well-known story is that of Katerina the headless bride, who was sentenced to death after murdering a Knight who forced himself upon her. Mdina strollers have had their pictures ruined (or possibly photobombed?) by the uninvited guest, whose ghost is said to still lurk in the city. Widely known as Malta’s Silent City, Mdina boasts several churches, palaces and museums, as well as quiet coffee shops just waiting for you to soak up the unique atmosphere.

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2. The inquisitorial walls of Birgu

The bastioned city of Birgu (Vittoriosa) has defied the odds, surviving many battles throughout history. It houses one of the last-standing palaces of the inquisition period, providing a rare insight into the powers once held by the Catholic Church. Malta was under the inquisitorial rule for 224 years and witnessed a wealth of criminals sentenced to prison in the Inquisitor’s Palace. Contrary to popular belief however, torture was rarely used, and was never actually part of the sentence. Many criminals were sentenced to a life of confinement in spartan-like cells, the walls of which tell the story of each prisoner held captive through etchings and symbols marked on the walls. Fascinating, isn’t it?


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3. The bastion walls of the Knights

Built in the 16th and 17th century, the magnificent walls surrounding the city of Valletta are arguably Malta’s greatest historical treasure. Originally, they were designed to keep out the invading Turks, as well as to protect the entire city. Later on, in the 19th and 20th century, the US fleet found safety and refuge from some of the most gruesome air attacks of the Second World War. Nowadays, cruise ships and luxury yachts gather in the Grand Harbour. The inner walls offer an array of historical and cultural legacies left by the various conquerors of the city.

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4. The Neolithic walls of Hal Saflieni

The Neolithic walls at Hal Saflieni Hypogeum are amongst the oldest in the world, dating back to 3,000BC, and are also the best preserved. Offering a fascinating insight into a long-gone culture, the temples are adorned with stone statues of the Fat Goddess, a prominent symbol for Malta. These large ladies represented human beauty and fertility for the land.

5. The fortified walls of Gozo’s Citadel

Occupied since prehistoric times, the Citadel is a testimony of all its inhabitants who left their mark in some way or other. The Citadel is rich in architectural, military and historical buildings dating back hundreds and thousands of years. The Old Prison is particularly intriguing, with etchings left over time by various prisoners locked up in these cells, usually tallying the length of their stay behind bars. The walls of the prison are also covered in graffiti - so much so that it has the largest known collection of historical graffiti on the Maltese Islands.

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Who knows what undiscovered stories lie behind Malta's ancient walls?


Jillian Mallia
Written by
Jillian Mallia
A book lover, writer and globetrotter who loves exploring new places and the local gems that the Maltese Islands have to offer. An avid foodie and arts fanatic, Jillian searches the island and beyond for the perfect settings to write about.

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