Behind the imposing bastions, along Mdina’s narrow streets, lie over 2,000 years of history just waiting to be discovered.
I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t love Mdina or doesn’t appreciate its architectural beauty. Not that I should be surprised about this, of course. It’s a wonderful city, whose history is intertwined with that of the island. It feels quaint and yet majestic, and it reminds us of why Malta is such an important player in the Mediterranean’s history.
Yet many simply roam its streets and end up just having an iced coffee and a slice of chocolate cake, which is absolutely great. However, there’s so much that can be done between entering the city and sitting down to admire the 360° views.
The former home of artist, scholar and philanthropist Captain Olaf Frederick Gollcher, Palazzo Falson is a two-story medieval palace that will delight your senses. From a library full of rare manuscripts to a collection of Maltese silver, this place is chock-a-block with artefacts that tell many a story. Make sure you check out the magnificent collection of 80 oriental rugs from as far afield as Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Azerbaijan.
Image by Francesca Turchi
History is often diluted and whitewashed with stories of heroes and romance, yet at no point in history did victory and justice come without a price. The Mdina Dungeons, located on the right-hand side of the entrance to the city, are a series of secret underground passageways that tell the darker side of our history – ranging from the Roman period all the way to Napoleon’s stint in Malta. It’s gory, but it will get you thinking.
Image by Marc Jacobs
Natural History Museum
Taxidermy’s never really appealed to me, but there’s something fascinating about the collection of stuffed animals found at the Natural History Museum in Mdina. And this is just a fraction of what’s on display. Here you’ll also find exhibitions related to Malta’s geology and palaeontology, a collection of rocks and minerals, and even the largest squid ever taken from Maltese waters. Oh, and don’t forget to notice the spectacular Baroque palace which houses them!
Image from flickr.com, user Marcin Bajer
St Paul’s Cathedral
According to legend, this cathedral was built on the site of a church which was, in turn, built on the site of St Publius’ house. For those of you who aren’t well-versed in Maltese history, St Publius was Malta’s first bishop all the way back in AD60. The current building was built in the late 17th century after the 1693 Sicily earthquake destroyed the former cathedral. The Cathedral is an architectural gem, designed by our very own Lorenzo Gafa, and it houses frescos, silverware, and many other awe-inspiring objets d’arts.
Image from flickr.com, user Ray
Mdina may not be your first choice for dining out, but this is most definitely a mistake you should remedy. From palazzos to the Carmelite Priory, many of Mdina’s most spectacular buildings have been turned into amazing eateries. The overall level of food, ambience and service is also really good – and, ultimately, nothing beats sipping on an Americano under a vaulted ceiling while you wonder which famous person from history might have stood where you are now.
Image by Lucy A
So, go on! Take a stroll down our former capital and let yourself be taken on a journey through time.
Are there any other places in Mdina you would suggest visiting?
Let us know in the comment section below.