Located in the central part of the island, Mdina was formerly the capital of Malta. It is now known as “Silent City,” or the City of Silence, and perhaps even more famous as the filming location for scenes for “Game of Thrones.” :)However, one must admit that compared to other cities on the island, it is actually quieter and more peaceful here. There will also be two words about the city of Rabat in Malta.
Mdina is currently inhabited by less than 200 people (193 to be exact [source]), and this fact alone is surprising to those who come here. We are even more surprised that less than 10 years ago it was almost 300 people. By far the larger and more “livable” city is neighboring Rabat, home to more than 11,000 people, and there are more restaurants and hotels here. The cities are separated by just a street, a tree-lined promenade and a garden (once a moat), and their sightseeing can be combined into a day trip, although if you want to look at every attraction we recommend planning 2 days.
The city is very strategically located: on a hill, in the central part of the island. Not surprisingly, it was here that the first stronghold was decided to be established. Over the years, the present Mdina, changed hands (it was founded by the Phoenicians, and then taken over or conquered by the Romans, Arabs, Normans or the Joannite order), was rebuilt, was surrounded by a moat and walls, and also the name of the city itself was changed several times. The history is extremely interesting, in our opinion more interesting than that of Malta’s current capital, Valletta – it is worth exploring before you arrive or while you are there.
After sightseeing in bustling Valletta, strolling in Sliema in the evening, and strolling along crowded beaches, Mdina was the perfect springboard for us. It really is quiet and peaceful here, even during peak season. We warn you right away: it’s not that you will be the only visitors here ;) But at least you will easily get to the streets where you will be completely alone.
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Mdina – sightseeing
A public transport bus going to Mdina pulls up almost right outside the city walls. To enter Mdina, you have to cross the bridge over the moat and then go through the gate, and suddenly here you are in a completely different world. Forget the hustle and bustle and crowds of visitors you may have already experienced in the current capital or on the beaches. Here we enter the “Silent city,” or “Silent City.” It really is quiet here!
Here we find signs asking people to be quiet out of respect for the residents, and people actually comply.
From here you can start down the main street Triq Villegaignon, which will lead to To St. Peter’s Cathedral. Paul, but you can also turn into the narrow streets and just wander around Mdina.
To begin with, however, we recommend that you turn immediately to the right after the gate – here there is a tourist information point, so you can get advice and take a map, so that you don’t get lost during this weaving (ok, that’s hard to do, but some people just like to have a map :) ).
Immediately at this point it is worth noting Palazzo Vilhena – here is the National Museum of Natural History (we have not been personally, and the reviews are not very good either – nevertheless a fact worth noting) and the Dungeon Museum.
There are few tourists here, and we saw even fewer locals (actually, probably none). More than once we were completely alone on the street, and we only saw more people at Mdina’s more distinctive sites like the aforementioned St. Peter’s Cathedral. There is also a terrace in St. Paul’s Cathedral and a terrace with a view that extends to the sea.
The aforementioned cathedral towers over the city and is the most distinctive building in Mdina. It is built in the Baroque style, with two clocks on its front indicating different times…. Why is this the case? Are there different time zones? In fact, only one of them shows the hour, the other – days and months. You can take a look inside the cathedral, which we recommend doing: there are marble tombstones on the floor (of the bishops of Mdina), and the interior itself is richly decorated. Right next to the cathedral is the Cathedral Museum.
Continuing down Triq Villegaignon one reaches an architectural gem – Palazzo Falson, and from there it is only 50 meters to the most interesting vantage point in Malta – Bastion Square. With good conditions you’ll easily see Mosta, Sliema or Valletta, and with the best conditions you can supposedly even spot Sicily!
Although the views were beautiful, most people were still focused on the small chameleon, which eagerly approached visitors.
What else is worth seeing? For example, the Carmelite Monastery and the very charming Pjazza Mesquita square.
You have to admit that the city is unique and has a unique atmosphere, and a visit to the Quiet City is memorable for a long time. While the monuments themselves may not knock your socks off, the sheer fact of being tucked away in such a quiet place, even in high season, and the city’s interesting history deserve attention.
Rabat – what is worth seeing here?
Mdina absorbed us and we ran out of time to explore Rabat in detail. We spent only a short time here, but it is worth mentioning what you can see here. Rabat used to be a suburb of Mdina, but it also has a few gems (although we feel it is still overlooked by many tours and visitors).
Just outside the walls of Mdina is the Domus Romana, the ruins of an ancient house from which delightful mosaics have been preserved. However, Rabat’s most popular attractions are catacombs of st. The company’s products include St. Paul’s and St. Agatha, which can be visited for a fee, St. Basilica. Paul and st. grotto. Paul located under the church.
Mdina or Valletta?
If you are wondering what to see, Mdina or Valletta, we have a brief comparison for you. On one side is bustling La Valletta, and on the other is quiet and peaceful Mdina. Being in high season, it was louder and bustling in Valletta, with lots of tourists winding through the streets. In Mdina, at the same time, it was definitely looser and less crowded (although we know from other people’s accounts that you can run into more tourists here as well).
Valletta has more sights, restaurants, hotels, and is Malta’s vibrant historical center. If you are interested in historic Malta, you should also see Mdina, which admittedly has fewer monuments, but its history is longer.
Both cities are historic, although different, and in our opinion, rather than wondering which one to visit, it’s just best to make time for both.
Personally, however, if we had to choose just one, our choice falls on Mdina – a city with a unique atmosphere that is memorable.
Weather in Mdina
In Mdina, as in all of Malta, it is very hot in the summer, with temperatures reaching as high as 30°C during the summer months (so from mid-June to mid-September). August is the warmest, when average temperatures are between 23°C and 30°C. Precipitation during this (holiday) period is also the lowest of the year.
The coldest time in Mdina is from December to March – that’s when average temperatures in Valletta are below 18°C (the coldest month is February). The most precipitation is in December.
Data based on:
Where to stay overnight in Mdina?
Mdina itself offers several accommodations but they are quite expensive. You might as well spend the night in nearby Rabat. Here are some suggestions for accommodation in Mdina and Rabat:
- Palazzo 16th Century Mdina
Address: Pjazza tal-arcisqof 3, MDN 1110 Mdina
Prices: from 3700 zloty for a six-bed room for three nights (minimum stay is three nights)
- The Xara Palace Relais & Chateaux
Address: Misrah Il-Kunsill, MDN 1050 Mdina
Prices: from 1000 PLN for a double room
- My Travel House
Address: 30 Triq S. Martin, RBT 3301 Rabat
Prices: from 420 PLN for a double room
- Point de vue Guesthouse
Address: 2/7 Saqqajja Square Rabat, RBT 1191 Rabat
Prices: from 410 PLN for a double room
- Maleth Inn
Address: Museum Road 15, RBT 1210 Rabat
Prices: from 370 PLN for a double room
Getting to Mdina
How to get to Mdina? As we mentioned earlier, there is a bus stop in close proximity to the city gate, so you can easily come here by public transportation. Buses 50, 51, 52, 53 and 56 arrive here from Valletta, and the trip takes about 40 minutes.
Bus schedules are available on this website: https://www.publictransport.com.mt
There is a parking lot at the bus stop.
Mdina – our opinion
It’s been a while since our visit to Mdina, but we still remember and recall it well, which proves that the place is memorable. Walking through the narrow streets, where at most a horse-drawn carriage can fit, peace and quiet, lots of shade – it was a good break for us from the rather popular and crowded places in Malta.
Finally, we recommend you to view our gallery of images: