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The Walled City of Mdina, Malta

Attractions Articles
The Walled City of Mdina, Malta

The Walled City of Mdina, Malta

The Silent City of Mdina

The walled city of Mdina was Malta's medieval capital and can trace its origins back for more than 4000 years, and it was here in 60 AD that the Apostle St Paul lived after being shipwrecked on his way to stand trial in Rome. Mdina, inland on Malta, has had many invaders and many rulers so its name has changed several times throughout history. The Romans called it Melita and the Arabs called it Medina. Mdina's medieval name was Citta Notabile meaning the noble city and is 200 metres above sea level, and enjoys a spectacular view of the Maltese Islands. The city earned its present name from the Saracens who came to Malta in about 870 AD. Mdina was home to Malta's noble families some of whom originally came from Scilly, France and Spain from the 12th century onwards. Their impressive houses and palaces line some of the narrow streets and walkways in this fine example of an ancient walled city. Today, cars are banned from most areas so the streets are calm and peaceful allowing a safe and relaxing stroll through some of the best Norman and Baroque architecture on Malta.

Mdina is known as the Silent City because car and motor vehicle traffic is severely restricted. Although the city of Mdina is fully inhabited silence is appreciated everywhere. This creates a timeless atmosphere in it's narrow streets and alleys, in the churches and convents and in the palazzo. Lorenzo Gafa (1638-1703) built the present cathedral in Mdina which stands, it is believed, on the site of the Roman governor Publius's house who was here during St Paul's stay in Malta. The original medieval cathedral, which was dedicated to St Paul, was destroyed in 1693 by an earthquake. The two cathedral belfries have six bells, the oldest of which was cast in Venice in 1372. The cathedral ceiling has fresco paintings by the Sicilian artists Antonio and Vincenzo Manno, and the church is adorned with paintings by Mattia Preti.

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