A stroll through the medieval narrow streets of sleepy, charming Mdina, which has changed little in the last 1000 years, should be near the top of things to do for any first time visitor to Malta. Situated on a hill in the middle of the island, twenty minutes away from Valletta, Mdina is the oldest and former Capital City of Malta.
There is an elegant fairy tale quality to Mdina, a city of shade and echoes, where medieval lanterns still swing in the wind, streets afford glimpses of winding alleyways and magnificent views open up without warning. A peaceful atmosphere pervades the capital’s old streets. Most of Mdina’s palaces serve as private homes to the small population of 320. Only a limited number of resident and emergency vehicles, wedding cars and hearses are allowed within Mdina.
Standing in the middle of a large square, the cathedral – dedicated to St Peter and St Paul – occupies pride of place in the old and beautiful capital. Dating back to the late seventeenth century, the cathedral was built on the traditional site of the house of the governor Publius, who received St. Paul when he was shipwrecked on Malta. But, there are also several other places worth a visit as you browse through the various streets.
Just inside the city’s main entrance, for instance, are the Mdina Dungeons and, next door, the islands’ Natural History Museum, housed in a beautiful old building. The Mdina Experience is a great introduction to the entire history of the city, an audiovisual spectacular on multi-lingual soundtracks. You could also try, The Knights of Malta and The Medieval Times, stunning walk through experiences with audiovisual shows exploring the middle Ages and the total history of the Knights. Other spots of interest include Vilhena Palace and Palazzo Falson.
The city offers several quaint restaurants and wine bars, perfect for whiling away the evening surrounded by centuries of electric atmosphere. Lastly, take an amble to the city edge and peer over the bastions – you will be rewarded with a magnificent bird’s-eye view of the islands.