Mdina, Malta

The Silent and Remarkable City of Malta

whimsical architecture
Architectural details, carefully cared for, of the buildings in Mdina.
long shadow figure
Figure runs through one of the many centuries-old alleys of Mdina.
The Chapel of Palazzo Falson
Interior restored to the detail of the chapel that blessed the Falson Palace.
Catacombs of São Paulo
St. Paul's Cathedral
St. Paul's Cathedral, the main Catholic temple in Mdina.
The Vilhena Gate
Coach and pedestrian about to cross the old gate of Vilhena.
Lion and Coat of Arms of Manoel Vilhena
Featured sculpture at the entrance to the Vilhena gate, the main access point to Mdina.
The Maltese Falcon
Pedestrian walks past the entrance to the Maltese Falcon store.
The Great Mdina
The fortified city of Mdina, on a plateau in the Maltese countryside.
Falson Palace Room
Interior of the Falson palace-museum, once inhabited by one of Mdina's noble families.
The Falson Courtyard
Warm Twilight II
warm twilight
Dusk lends warm, electrified tones to St. Paul's Cathedral.
St. Paul II Cathedral
Figures in front of the largest church in Mdina.
Shadows from the past
Mdina was Malta's capital until 1530. Even after the Knights Hospitaller demoted it, it was attacked and fortified accordingly. Today, it's the coastal and overlooking Valletta that drives the island's destinies. Mdina has the tranquility of its monumentality.

The vision clashes with those who had become accustomed to those who, like us, arrive from the coastal heights of Valletta and its Three Cities.

We advance through a straw-yellow plain, broken up by irrigated and verdant plantations.

Little by little, we approached a detached plateau, supported by a series of terraces, walled along its entire length and crowned by a houses of the typical yellowish limestone of Malta.

Three towers and a vault are projected from this cramped house, on top of the main Christian temples in the village.

Mdina, Malta, Silent City

The Triq L-IMdina route leads through a boulevard that disappears into a tunnel of cedars and stone pines.

When we leave it, we make our way to the slope. Moments later, we find ourselves on the equally or more wooded edge of the southwestern face of the fortress.

Facing its moat and the gate of Mdina, the main entrance to the city, guarded by lions who display the coat of arms of the Grand Master of the Order of Saint John of Jerusalem.

Mdina, Malta, Silent City, lion

The Vilhena Gate Adapted to the War of Thrones

The gate also has its Portuguese name: Vilhena.

António Manoel de Vilhena, Grand Master from 1722 until his death in 1736, was responsible for the then urgent renovation of Mdina, along with other imposing Maltese works: the Borgo Vilhena Floriana, Forte Manoel and, on the same path of narcissistic baptisms, Teatro Manoel.

Vilhena hired the architect and military engineer Charles Francois de Mondion for several works of his time. The Frenchman built the Vilhena Gate in a lauded baroque style, recovered over and over again and, today, with worldwide fame.

The gate was one of two places from Mdina (among many more from Malta) used in the filming of "War of Thrones".

The first occasion was in episode 3 (Lord Snow) of Season 1, while “Kings landing”. We would also pass by another place made up of scenery, Praça da Mesquita.

Mdina, Malta, Silent City, architecture

In successive crossings of the gate, what we see is largely the result of the city's extrapolated beauty and notoriety.

Horses are crossing the bridge, pulling coaches from other times with dazzled visitors on board, jalopies with newlyweds destined for the cathedral of São Paulo.

And even a boxed jeep, loaded with vegetables, resulting from some gardening operation.

The transit of Mdina is, however, sporadic.

UNESCO Waiting List and the City of Silence Impasse

Malta has been waiting for a long time for UNESCO to move the city from the indicative list (where it has been since 1998) to that of World Heritage, on what Valletta has been around since 1980.

Authorities do everything they can. With one or another exception like those we have witnessed, the walled stronghold of Mdina is the only one in the archipelago where motor vehicles are prohibited.

After all, Mdina stayed for the History as the “Silent City” of Malta. This title and the complementary ones of “Old City” and “Remarkable City” are assets that the Maltese government knows UNESCO cannot ignore.

When we enter Mdina, we are immediately lost in a maze of streets, alleys, squares, doors, windows, balconies, patios and so on, with secular urban elements, with Norman and Baroque lines, all of them improved.

Mdina, Malta, Silent City, architecture

Moments of wandering later, the pressing issue was installed.

Why on earth was such a complex and majestic historical legacy kept waiting?

Falson Palace: Symbol of Faust and Persistence of the Nobles of Mdina

We looked for Palazzo Falson, one of the buildings we paid particular attention to.

Today, a museum, the palace maintains its seventeen rooms still furnished, equipped with various historical belongings and a chapel decorated with religious paintings in which, even on the altar itself, there is a painting of Jesus Christ cared for by a retinue of angels.

Mdina, Malta, Silent City, Palazzo Falson chapel

At Palazzo Falson, we discover the luxury in which the homonymous family lived, in Mdina, in the image of the wealthy and powerful nobility of Malta.

In this fortified luxury and refinement, most of the island's nobles resisted abandoning it, even when Malta's political-military action moved to other parts.

The Millennial Past of the Silent, Old and Remarkable City

The story goes that Mdina was founded, in the 8th century BC, by the Phoenicians. In due epochs of occupation of Malta, it was taken by the Romans, Byzantines and Arabs, the latter being the people who gave it the name it preserves.

Overlooking, far from the Mediterranean coast and less vulnerable to attacks by pirates and all kinds of enemies such as the coastal towns of Malta and those from the neighboring island of Gozo, Mdina remained the island's capital.

Mdina, Malta, Silent City, St. Paul's CathedralUntil the Hospitaller Knights of the Order of St. John, trained in Jerusalem, conquered Malta from the Arabs. Even if it took refuge in Mdina during the Ottoman Siege, the Order preferred Birgu, one of the current Three Cities.

Neither this unexpected impudence, nor the Sicilian earthquake of 1693, which caused significant destruction in Mdina.

Or even the plans of one of the Order's favorite military engineers, the capomast Girolamo Cassar, to reduce it and make it a pure and hard fortress, convinced the nobles to leave.

The Ambitious Work Dictated by António Manuel de Vilhena

Fast forward to 1722. António Manuel de Vilhena arrived at the command of Malta. In a short time, he acquired an image of benevolence and respect for his subjects that they were not used to seeing in the Hospital Masters.

Vilhena dictated the complete recovery of Mdina and its fortification in keeping with the historic importance of the city and the forces that continued to covet Malta, some of them, on the island's gates.

In addition to the gate that we have already covered, Vilhena ordered several public buildings: the Municipal Palace and the Corte Capitanale which, in our days, is used as a town hall.

The nobles left to stay.

Years later, among other social and, above all, military upheavals, the French and the British disputed Malta over the coast of Birgu, Valletta and other villages on the east coast of the island.

Also on that occasion, the privileged nobility class resisted moving from its walled backwater. It was this kind of self-retreat and the subsequent absence of vehicles that gave rise to the epithet City of Silence.

Shipwreck of the Apostle Paul and the Early Christianity of Malta

As we walked along it, as a result of the abundance of foreign tourists, the silence remained partial, more complete in the catacombs of São Paulo, part of an underground system of almost 4km that includes other galleries.

The catacombs were used as a cemetery for the Phoenicians and Romans, in use until at least the XNUMXth century and, again, during the island's reconversion to XNUMXth century Christianity.

Mdina, Malta, Silent City, catacombs of São Paulo

A current of history holds that the apostle Paul was taken to Rome to be tried as a political rebel when a fulminating storm caused the ship to wreck.

Paulo and the other passengers on board managed to swim to Malta. Part of a much richer narrative, it is believed that during his forced stay, Paulo took refuge in a cave in Rabat, the city that today extends outside the walls of Mdina.

Come winter, he will have been invited by Publius, the Roman leader of the island, to his house. In those days, Paul healed an intense fever that afflicted the Roman. Recognized, he will have converted to Christianity. He even became the first Bishop of Malta.

The shipwrecked presence of Paul and his decisive role in the alleged early Christianization of Malta, justified the baptisms in the cathedral of Mdina, the church of Rabat and other monuments as we passed.

The Silent City's Twilight and Slow Gold

Alley after alley, triq behind trich, the already long day of the Silent City is drawing to a close.

We were delighted to see how the sunset yellowed corners contemplated by the great star.

Shadows lengthening in the alleys and pedestrians appearing from centuries-old tunnels like projected ghosts.

Mdina, Malta, Silent City, long shadow

We see them wandering around the base of the cathedral, which the twilight and the lighting bless with a warm almost pink.

We remember that that resplendence would have to be impressive doubled, if seen from a distance, almost taking off from the highlands of Mdina.

So we hurried down to its eastern foothills.

Already on a trail that furrowed the surrounding minifundia, disturbing corridors that cultivated their physical form, we were enchanted by the celestial structure, spatial environment of the Cathedral of São Paulo in a dramatic fire against the firmament.

Galle, Sri Lanka

Galle Fort: A Portuguese and then Dutch (His) story

Camões immortalized Ceylon as an indelible landmark of the Discoveries, where Galle was one of the first fortresses that the Portuguese controlled and yielded. Five centuries passed and Ceylon gave way to Sri Lanka. Galle resists and continues to seduce explorers from the four corners of the Earth.
Valletta, Malta

An ex-Humble Amazing Capital

At the time of its foundation, the Order of Knights Hospitaller called it "the most humble". Over the centuries, the title ceased to serve him. In 2018, Valletta was the tiniest European Capital of Culture ever and one of the most steeped in history and dazzling in memory.
Senglea, Malta

An Overcrowded Malta

At the turn of the 8.000th century, Senglea housed 0.2 inhabitants in 2 km3.000, a European record, today, it has “only” XNUMX neighborhood Christians. It is the smallest, most overcrowded and genuine of the Maltese cities.
Gozo, Malta

Mediterranean Days of Utter Joy

The island of Gozo is a third the size of Malta but only thirty of the small nation's three hundred thousand inhabitants. In duo with Comino's beach recreation, it houses a more down-to-earth and serene version of the always peculiar Maltese life.
Castles and Fortresses

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Khiva, Uzbequistan

The Silk Road Fortress the Soviets Velved

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Cartagena de Indias, Colombia

The Desired City

Many treasures passed through Cartagena before being handed over to the Spanish Crown - more so than the pirates who tried to plunder them. Today, the walls protect a majestic city always ready to "rumbear".
Sigiriya, Sri Lanka

The Capital Fortress of a Parricide King

Kashyapa I came to power after walling up his father's monarch. Afraid of a probable attack by his brother heir to the throne, he moved the main city of the kingdom to the top of a granite peak. Today, his eccentric haven is more accessible than ever and has allowed us to explore the Machiavellian plot of this Sri Lankan drama.
Helsinki, Finland

Finland's once Swedish Fortress

Detached in a small archipelago at the entrance to Helsinki, Suomenlinna was built by the Swedish kingdom's political-military designs. For more than a century, the Russia stopped her. Since 1917, the Suomi people have venerated it as the historic bastion of their thorny independence.
Saint John of Acre, Israel

The Fortress That Withstood Everything

It was a frequent target of the Crusades and taken over and over again. Today, Israeli, Acre is shared by Arabs and Jews. He lives much more peaceful and stable times than the ones he went through.
San Juan, Puerto Rico

The Highly Walled Puerto Rico of San Juan Bautista

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Jaisalmer, India

The Life Withstanding in the Golden Fort of Jaisalmer

The Jaisalmer fortress was erected from 1156 onwards by order of Rawal Jaisal, ruler of a powerful clan from the now Indian reaches of the Thar Desert. More than eight centuries later, despite continued pressure from tourism, they share the vast and intricate interior of the last of India's inhabited forts, almost four thousand descendants of the original inhabitants.
savuti, botswana, elephant-eating lions
Savuti, Botswana

Savuti's Elephant-Eating Lions

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Muktinath to Kagbeni, Annapurna Circuit, Nepal, Kagbeni
Annapurna (circuit)
Annapurna Circuit 14th - Muktinath to Kagbeni, Nepal,

On the Other Side of the Pass

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Colonial Church of San Francisco de Assis, Taos, New Mexico, USA
Architecture & Design
Taos, USA

North America Ancestor of Taos

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Boats on ice, Hailuoto Island, Finland.
Hailuoto, Finland

A Refuge in the Gulf of Bothnia

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good buddhist advice
Ceremonies and Festivities
Chiang Mai, Thailand

300 Wats of Spiritual and Cultural Energy

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Singapore Asian Capital Food, Basmati Bismi

The Asian Food Capital

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Beverage Machines, Japan

The Beverage Machines Empire

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Bungee jumping, Queenstown, New Zealand
Queenstown, New Zealand

Queenstown, the Queen of Extreme Sports

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Train Fianarantsoa to Manakara, Malagasy TGV, locomotive
Fianarantsoa-Manakara, Madagascar

On board the Malagasy TGV

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Resident of Nzulezu, Ghana
Nzulezu, Ghana

A Village Afloat in Ghana

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Sunset, Avenue of Baobabs, Madagascar
Got2Globe Photo Portfolio

days like so many others

Cilaos, Reunion Island, Casario Piton des Neiges
Cilaos, Reunion Island

Refuge under the roof of the Indian Ocean

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Angra do Heroísmo, Terceira, Azores, from historic capital to World Heritage, urban art
Angra do Heroismo, Terceira (Azores), Azores

Heroina do Mar, from Noble People, Brave and Immortal City

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Passengers on the frozen surface of the Gulf of Bothnia, at the base of the "Sampo" icebreaker, Finland
Winter White
Kemi, Finland

It's No "Love Boat". Breaks the Ice since 1961

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Cove, Big Sur, California, United States
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Homer, Alaska, Kachemak Bay
Anchorage to Homer, USA

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Sheki, Autumn in the Caucasus, Azerbaijan, Autumn Homes
Sheki, Azerbaijan

autumn in the caucasus

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Semeru (far) and Bromo volcanoes in Java, Indonesia
Natural Parks
Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park Indonesia

The Volcanic Sea of ​​Java

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The Toy Train story
UNESCO World Heritage
Siliguri a Darjeeling, India

The Himalayan Toy Train Still Running

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Ooty, Tamil Nadu, Bollywood Scenery, Heartthrob's Eye
Ooty, India

In Bollywood's Nearly Ideal Setting

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Drums and Tattoos
Tahiti, French Polynesia

Tahiti Beyond the Cliché

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Young people walk the main street in Chame, Nepal
Annapurna Circuit: 1th - Pokhara a Chame, Nepal,

Finally, on the way

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End of the World Train, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina
On Rails
Ushuaia, Argentina

Last Station: End of the World

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Kogi, PN Tayrona, Guardians of the World, Colombia
PN Tayrona, Colombia

Who Protects the Guardians of the World?

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Coin return
Daily life
Dawki, India

Dawki, Dawki, Bangladesh on sight

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Amboseli National Park, Mount Kilimanjaro, Normatior Hill
Amboseli National Park, Kenya

A Gift from the Kilimanjaro

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The Sounds, Fiordland National Park, New Zealand
Scenic Flights
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