Mdina, which is also known as “The Silent City”, is an ancient capital of Malta, about 4000 years old. The city is located on a top of the hill from where you have a stunning view of fields and villages around. Visiting Mdina is similar to using a time machine that takes you ages back. You will enjoy exploring the paved narrow streets, beautiful churches, ancient monasteries and glorious palaces.
Already in the Bronze Age fortified settlement was located there and Phoenicians erected first city walls. The heyday of the city was within the period of Roman rule. It was renamed by the Romans to Melite. Cicero and Livy wrote about the city with beautiful buildings and landscaped lifestyle. It is believed that apostle Paul, who supposedly landed in Malta after shipwreck in 60 g of n. e, has been to Mdina. The apostle Paul considered the founder of Christianity in Malta.
Melite was a bigger city than current Mdina, and shrunk to its current size during the Byzantine or Arab occupation of Malta. City adopted its present name during latter period. Name Mdina comes from Arabic medina. During the rule of the Arabs Roman ancient city of Melita was split into two parts: Mdina Citadel i.e. the city, and the suburbs Rabat.
In the Middle Ages Mdina was an administrative center, which hosted the municipal government. Due to impregnable walls of the city, many religious orders built there their monasteries during this period. After the new city of Valletta was laid, Mdina was renamed to the Old Town, and some residents chose to leave and move to Valletta. However, part of the aristocracy did not want to abandon their palaces and mansions and stayed in Mdina. These magnificent XIV-XV century buildings preserved in the streets of the ancient city up to the present time. In 1724, Grand Master de Vilhena, instead of lifting bridge leading into the city built the main entrance gate, which leads to a small stone bridge thrown across the ditch dug by the Arabs. The bridge is decorated with stone spoils of war that keep lions.
Mdina is still confined within its walls, and has a population of just under 300, who are Mdina's custodians. However Mdina is contiguous with the town of Rabat, which population counts over 11,000 inhabitants.
The streets of Mdina at first glance seem very crooked and without order. They run the risk of getting lost, not focusing on the area. Later you realize they are deliberately designed so that the distance from one turn to the next does not exceed the arrow's flight, and the width of the street fits only single carriage. This plan wore defensive nature and did a good job for the residents of the Old Town.