You know those photos on destinations that just get you? The ones you keep on recycling on Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter because they're just so damn beautiful? Walking through Mdina felt a lot like walking through one giant Instagram account of amazing places we wished we lived in.
Mdina is a small medieval city perched at the highest point of the island of Malta. Throughout history, the walled city has had many names; Maleth by the Phoenicians, Melita during the time of the Romans, Citta' Vecchia (the old city) or Citta' Notabile (the noble city) once Valleta became capital, and the name Medina belongs to the Arab culture Sarcens.
Part I: Christianity
Mdina is a city with mass religious appeal. Be sure to dress appropriately with shoulders and thighs covered, as not to offend any local churchgoers.
It is said that the biblical figure, Apostle St. Paul arrived in Mdina after his ship to Rome got destroyed in a storm. The survivors of the tragedy all swam ashore and were welcomed by the locals in about 60 A.D. With his arrival came a series of events which made it easy for him to begin converting the islanders to Christianity. As it turns out, Malta was one of the first Roman colonies to convert.
If you're not a Christian, don't worry, nobody is judging you. I'm not either, I just enjoy the feeling of a place where people come together for a cause they all believe in. If you're at all excited by history affected by religion, you cannot leave this place off your list. The effect that religion has had on this "holy city" is enormous.
Part II: The Colors of Mdina
Make sure to bring your camera! Mdina is the highest point on Malta, making it a great spot for wide views from the city walls.
As mentioned earlier, Mdina has been nicknamed The Noble City. This is because of its long line of noble residents, dating back to the 12th century. It is said that even today, a large population of the walled city belongs to such noble ancestors.
Although certain artifacts of Mdina date back as far as 4000 years, most of the buildings still standing today only date back as far as the 16th and 17th century. Unfortunately, most of the earlier architecture was flattened out by an earthquake in 1693. Even the major cathedrals had to be rebuilt and modified several times to fit political changes on the islands. Most of what you can see now has strong European Baroque and Medieval influence.
Today, the city of Mdina reflects a typical Maltese style limestone façade with brightly colored wooden doors, window frames, and balconies. Walking through the narrow streets is beautiful even on a cloudy day, like in the photos. It feels like something between an Italian town and what I imagine Jerusalem to look like without all the people walking about.
Part III: The Silent City
Even though we came to the walled city on a Saturday, there were almost no people anywhere. Sure, a few tourists flocked up by the café with a view, but the rest of Mdina seemed almost abandoned. That's when we started searching our phones for an answer... The Silent City, they dubbed it.
And silent it is! Most restaurants and cafes are hidden away in walled courtyards. Many buildings don't even have outward facing windows on the ground floor. If you get the chance to peek into the gardens beyond the limestone, savor every moment.
The residents of this town enjoy their peace. Keep your voice down and be polite.
Malta has so far, been one of the most picturesque places we have ever visited. With just two weeks to go, we're taking it all in at an intensely high pace. The unity of all the limestone buildings, the gorgeous bright colored contrast of the individual balconies and doors, a land sprinkled in religious obsession... it's a wonderful place to find peace, kiss the deep blue sea, and explore a magical history.
*Tip: Skip the museum of natural history. It's basically just a bunch of stuffed dead animals. Any reading on Maltese specimens can be done elsewhere, as this place provides a mix of wildlife from everywhere.
Do you have any recommendations fir things to see in Malta? What do you think of this post? Let us know in the comments below!