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

The World to Defense - Castles and Fortresses that Resist

Under threat from enemies from the end of time, the leaders of villages and nations built castles and fortresses. All over the place, military monuments like these continue to resist.
Khiva, Uzbequistan

The Silk Road Fortress the Soviets Velved

In the 80s, Soviet leaders renewed Khiva in a softened version that, in 1990, UNESCO declared a World Heritage Site. The USSR disintegrated the following year. Khiva has preserved its new luster.
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

San Juan is the second oldest colonial city in the Americas, after the Dominican neighbor of Santo Domingo. A pioneering emporium and stop over on the route that took gold and silver from the New World to Spain, it was attacked again and again. Its incredible fortifications still protect one of the most lively and prodigious capitals in the Caribbean.
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.
Okavango Delta, Not all rivers reach the sea, Mokoros
Okavango Delta, Botswana

Not all rivers reach the sea

Third longest river in southern Africa, the Okavango rises in the Angolan Bié plateau and runs 1600km to the southeast. It gets lost in the Kalahari Desert where it irrigates a dazzling wetland teeming with wildlife.
Yak Kharka to Thorong Phedi, Annapurna Circuit, Nepal, Yaks
Annapurna (circuit)
Annapurna Circuit 11th: yak karkha a Thorong Phedi, Nepal

Arrival to the Foot of the Canyon

In just over 6km, we climbed from 4018m to 4450m, at the base of Thorong La canyon. Along the way, we questioned if what we felt were the first problems of Altitude Evil. It was never more than a false alarm.
Colonial Church of San Francisco de Assis, Taos, New Mexico, USA
Architecture & Design
Taos, USA

North America Ancestor of Taos

Traveling through New Mexico, we were dazzled by the two versions of Taos, that of the indigenous adobe hamlet of Taos Pueblo, one of the towns of the USA inhabited for longer and continuously. And that of Taos city that the Spanish conquerors bequeathed to the Mexico: Mexico gave in to United States and that a creative community of native descendants and migrated artists enhance and continue to praise.
Boats on ice, Hailuoto Island, Finland.
Hailuoto, Finland

A Refuge in the Gulf of Bothnia

During winter, the island of Hailuoto is connected to the rest of Finland by the country's longest ice road. Most of its 986 inhabitants esteem, above all, the distance that the island grants them.
Indigenous Crowned
Ceremonies and Festivities
Pueblos del Sur, Venezuela

Behind the Venezuela Andes. Fiesta Time.

In 1619, the authorities of Mérida dictated the settlement of the surrounding territory. The order resulted in 19 remote villages that we found dedicated to commemorations with caretos and local pauliteiros.
fastened by several wires
Curitiba, Brazil

The High-Quality Life of Curitiba

It is not only the altitude of almost 1000 meters at which the city is located. Cosmopolitan and multicultural, the capital of Paraná has a quality of life and human development rating that make it a unique case in Brazil.

A Market Economy

The law of supply and demand dictates their proliferation. Generic or specific, covered or open air, these spaces dedicated to buying, selling and exchanging are expressions of life and financial health.
MassKara Festival, Bacolod City, Philippines
Bacolod, Philippines

A Festival to Laugh at Tragedy

Around 1980, the value of sugar, an important source of wealth on the Philippine island of Negros, plummeted and the ferry “Don Juan” that served it sank and took the lives of more than 176 passengers, most of them from Negrès. The local community decided to react to the depression generated by these dramas. That's how MassKara arose, a party committed to recovering the smiles of the population.
Bungee jumping, Queenstown, New Zealand
Queenstown, New Zealand

Queenstown, the Queen of Extreme Sports

In the century. XVIII, the Kiwi government proclaimed a mining village on the South Island "fit for a queen".Today's extreme scenery and activities reinforce the majestic status of ever-challenging Queenstown.
Hikers on the Ice Lake Trail, Annapurna Circuit, Nepal
Annapurna Circuit: 7th - Braga - Ice Lake, Nepal

Annapurna Circuit – The Painful Acclimatization of the Ice Lake

On the way up to the Ghyaru village, we had a first and unexpected show of how ecstatic the Annapurna Circuit can be tasted. Nine kilometers later, in Braga, due to the need to acclimatize, we climbed from 3.470m from Braga to 4.600m from Lake Kicho Tal. We only felt some expected tiredness and the increase in the wonder of the Annapurna Mountains.
Cobá, trip to the Mayan Ruins, Pac Chen, Mayans of now
Cobá to Pac Chen, Mexico

From the Ruins to the Mayan Homes

On the Yucatan Peninsula, the history of the second largest indigenous Mexican people is intertwined with their daily lives and merges with modernity. In Cobá, we went from the top of one of its ancient pyramids to the heart of a village of our times.
Sunset, Avenue of Baobabs, Madagascar
Got2Globe Photo Portfolio

days like so many others

Leisure Channel
Amsterdam, The Netherlands

From Channel to Channel in a Surreal Holland

Liberal when it comes to drugs and sex, Amsterdam welcomes a crowd of outsiders. Among canals, bicycles, coffee shops and brothel windows, we search, in vain, for its quieter side.
La Digue, Seychelles, Anse d'Argent
La Digue, Seychelles

Monumental Tropical Granite

Beaches hidden by lush jungle, made of coral sand washed by a turquoise-emerald sea are anything but rare in the Indian Ocean. La Digue recreated itself. Around its coastline, massive boulders sprout that erosion has carved as an eccentric and solid tribute of time to the Nature.
Geothermal, Iceland Heat, Ice Land, Geothermal, Blue Lagoon
Winter White

The Geothermal Coziness of the Ice Island

Most visitors value Iceland's volcanic scenery for its beauty. Icelanders also draw from them heat and energy crucial to the life they lead to the Arctic gates.
On the Crime and Punishment trail, St. Petersburg, Russia, Vladimirskaya
Saint Petersburg, Russia

On the Trail of "Crime and Punishment"

In St. Petersburg, we cannot resist investigating the inspiration for the base characters in Fyodor Dostoevsky's most famous novel: his own pities and the miseries of certain fellow citizens.
Cahuita, Costa Rica, Caribbean, beach
Cahuita, Costa Rica

An Adult Return to Cahuita

During a backpacking tour of Costa Rica in 2003, the Caribbean warmth of Cahuita delights us. In 2021, after 18 years, we return. In addition to an expected, but contained modernization and hispanization of the town, little else had changed.
Mother Armenia Statue, Yerevan, Armenia
Yerevan, Armenia

A Capital between East and West

Heiress of the Soviet civilization, aligned with the great Russia, Armenia allows itself to be seduced by the most democratic and sophisticated ways of Western Europe. In recent times, the two worlds have collided in the streets of your capital. From popular and political dispute, Yerevan will dictate the new course of the nation.
Lenticular cloud, Mount Cook, New Zealand.
Natural Parks
Mount cook, New Zealand

The Cloud Piercer Mountain

Aoraki/Mount Cook may fall far short of the world's roof but it is New Zealand's highest and most imposing mountain.
Ulugh Beg, Astronomer, Samarkand, Uzbekistan, A Space Marriage
UNESCO World Heritage
Samarkand, Uzbekistan

The Astronomer Sultan

The grandson of one of the great conquerors of Central Asia, Ulugh Beg, preferred the sciences. In 1428, he built a space observatory in Samarkand. His studies of the stars led him to name a crater on the Moon.
Couple visiting Mikhaylovskoe, village where writer Alexander Pushkin had a home
Saint Petersburg e Mikhaylovkoe, Russia

The Writer Who Succumbed to His Own Plot

Alexander Pushkin is hailed by many as the greatest Russian poet and the founder of modern Russian literature. But Pushkin also dictated an almost tragicomic epilogue to his prolific life.
Mahé Ilhas das Seychelles, friends of the beach
Mahé, Seychelles

The Big Island of the Small Seychelles

Mahé is the largest of the islands of the smallest country in Africa. It's home to the nation's capital and most of the Seychellois. But not only. In its relative smallness, it hides a stunning tropical world, made of mountainous jungle that merges with the Indian Ocean in coves of all sea tones.
Police intervention, ultra-Orthodox Jews, Jaffa, Tel Aviv, Israel
Jaffa, Israel

Unorthodox protests

A building in Jaffa, Tel Aviv, threatened to desecrate what ultra-Orthodox Jews thought were remnants of their ancestors. And even the revelation that they were pagan tombs did not deter them from the contestation.
white pass yukon train, Skagway, Gold Route, Alaska, USA
On Rails
Skagway, Alaska

A Klondike's Gold Fever Variant

The last great American gold rush is long over. These days, hundreds of cruise ships each summer pour thousands of well-heeled visitors into the shop-lined streets of Skagway.
Australia Day, Perth, Australian Flag
Perth, Australia

Australia Day: In Honor of the Foundation, Mourning for Invasion

26/1 is a controversial date in Australia. While British settlers celebrate it with barbecues and lots of beer, Aborigines celebrate the fact that they haven't been completely wiped out.
the projectionist
Daily life
Sainte-Luce, Martinique

The Nostalgic Projectionist

From 1954 to 1983, Gérard Pierre screened many of the famous films arriving in Martinique. 30 years after the closing of the room in which he worked, it was still difficult for this nostalgic native to change his reel.
Serengeti, Great Savannah Migration, Tanzania, wildebeest on river
Serengeti NP, Tanzania

The Great Migration of the Endless Savanna

In these prairies that the Masai people say syringet (run forever), millions of wildebeests and other herbivores chase the rains. For predators, their arrival and that of the monsoon are the same salvation.
Passengers, scenic flights-Southern Alps, New Zealand
Scenic Flights
Aoraki / Mount Cook, New Zealand

The Aeronautical Conquest of the Southern Alps

In 1955, pilot Harry Wigley created a system for taking off and landing on asphalt or snow. Since then, his company has unveiled, from the air, some of the greatest scenery in Oceania.