Mdina old capital city of Malta

Mdina

the old capital city of Malta, is a fortified hill-top urban settlement located at the very heart of the Maltese islands. In existence since the bronze age period 2500b.c.– 800b.c., Mdina has acted for almost 2000 years as the administrative and political capital of the Maltese islands.

The history of Mdina is archaeologically documented from the Bronze age, Phoenician, Carthaginian, Roman, Byzantine, Arab and up to the Medieval period. The arrival of the Phoenicians on the Maltese islands in the 8th cent b.c., gave the impetus which developed in importance far more than the Bronze age settlers. By Roman times, Mdina, then known as Melite, developed considerably covering an area which is much larger than the current one. During the Roman period 218b.c. – 5th cent a.d., Mdina contained fine patrician houses, public buildings, temples dedicated to Apollo, statuary and mosaic floors. A fine example is the Domus Romana which is open for the public and preserves one of the best mosaic floors and statuary remains on the islands.

Mdina was drastically scaled down from the late Byzantine period 7th /8th cent A.D. up to medieval time. After the Byzantine period, Mdina was taken over successively by the Arabs, Normans, Aragonese all of which they all contributed to the city’s layout, especially the narrow winding streets, a feature which is very characteristic of medieval Islamic urbanism in the Maghreb and Sicilian medieval towns. A major re-construction occurred in the early 18th century, just after the earthquake of 1693 were the eastern side of Mdina had to be re-built in Baroque by the clergy and the Knights of St.John. The main contribution was the Metropolitan Cathedral of St.Peter and St.Paul, the main seat of the Archbishop of Malta a fine example of a baroque church built by a Maltese architect Melchiore Gafa’. The Main gate, the Vilhena Palace and the watch tower at the main entrance were all built after the main intervention of the Grand Master of the Order of St John Manoel de Vilhena.

With a population of 230 people, Mdina, today, is referred to as the Silent city and is one of the most popular sites visited each year.