Mdina home of Malta's glass industry Malta

Mdina Malta Maltese holiday destinations resorts


Mdina, Malta's ancient capital stands majestically on a hilltop in the centre of the island. From its lofty perch, Mdina commands stunning views of the Maltese landscape. This ancient walled city is not only the jewel in Malta's crown but also one of Europe's finest examples of medieval fortifications and a major must see of any visit to the island. As you approach Mdina, a checkerboard of fields divided by rubble walls stretches up to meet the high city ramparts. Over the top, the dome of Mdina's famous Baroque cathedral swells impressively; cross the drawbridge and you can feel the history hanging in the air.

As long ago as 1000BC settlers built a wall around a hill top in central Malta and called it Malet, or 'place of shelter'. The Romans arrived and transformed this small settlement into a large town and renamed it Melita. It was not until the 9th century when the Arabs arrived that the city was renamed Mdina, Arabic for 'walled city'. For a long time after, Mdina flourished as the home of Malta's aristocracy and home to its governing council. Only when the Knights shifted their activity to the seaside city of Valletta did Mdina begin to fade into the background. Nowadays, Mdina is well known international due to its unique style of glass work. It's easily recognised thanks to its use of incredible colours and interesting designs.

Isolated from the rest of the island by sturdy city walls, entering Mdina is a little like going back in time. Fans claim this is part of Mdina's charm whilst to critics it's a historical theme park trapped in the past. Whilst there might be an element of truth in this, the palpable sense of history and unique atmosphere make Mdina a must see.

Nowadays, Mdina's towering walls serve no military purpose but are great at keeping out the noise and pollution of the rest of the island. With only 400 permanent residents, and very few vehicles, the resort is the perfect place for a quiet stroll. The morning arrival of the tourists only marginally breaks the silence; it's easy to see how Mdina gets its nickname 'The Silent City'. To get a feel for the real Mdina, wait until the sun has set, tourists and touts gone home then wander the tiny rambling streets and soak up Mdina's immense feeling of history.