The upper deck of the touristic bus was full the day we decided to visit “the Silent City” and we were lucky to still catch seats with a view. It’s a half an hour ride from Valetta across Malta’s rocky relief but all the ceramic and pottery workshops that dot the countryside are a very lovely sight.
We will not easily forget the moment Mdina’s silhouette appeared on the skyline, as there was a general sigh across the bus and cameras started clicking on the spot. The driver was kind enough to stop for a moment so we can all take in that marvellous view – a medieval jewel that seemed to pierce the cloudy sky.
Entering the city through its famous gate it does feel like you are leaving the 21st century behind.
There are many places in Europe that have preserved their authentic medieval feeling, and we always love exploring them. Mdina is a perfect example of such a place. Just let your imagination run wild when looking down those stunning alleys and you can easily hear the sound of hoofs running back again on the cobbled streets.
It almost feels like the medieval inhabitants of this city just hurriedly left its walls not very long ago. There are no cars here to remind you of modern days and although full of tourists you can still find alleys and small corners where you can be alone with the magical atmosphere of the place.
The city’s dominating landmark is its beautiful St. Paul cathedral. Do step inside and you won’t be disappointed. Said to be built on the spot where the Roman Governor Publius (Saint Publius) met St. Paul after his shipwreck on the island of Malta, it is a beautiful baroque statement raised on top of a much older building of antiquity. Although a laid-back and mostly tranquil place today, St Paul’s reminds us through its size and elegance of those times when Mdina was the capital of Malta, and a real Mediterranean power.
When inside, check the floor mosaics. Placed back-to-back are all sorts of wonderful marble mosaics that hide underneath the tombs of the city’s powerful and influential and they cover the entire surface of the Cathedral forming one of the most amazing pavements we have ever seen.
We never really knew how to feel about beautiful historic places like Mdina, becoming increasingly popular not for their heritage value but for a kind of superficial reason such as being the stage where famous movies or series have been shot. Mdina served as the backdrop for some Game of Thrones scenes, and there are tours available now to find those places. It does bring in the tourists so it is probably good for the business but it would be even better if those coming here with that in mind to take a moment to go further than the cinematographic value of the place and try to take in the history of this magical city. Don’t get us wrong, we are also big GoT fans and it was nice to see Little Finger’s brother from outside 🙂 … it’s just a great shame to resume a place like this only at that.
And yet, it is always important to remember that places like this, however fascinatingly touristic they may be for us, they are someone’s home, and people still live their daily lives here. For us it has always been important to notice the locals, try to understand them and be respectful of their privacy and their way of living. At the end of the day, we will spend a single day here and move on to other destinations but for them, thousands like us come and go every single day, but their lives must carry on and they should not be disturbed.
The Silent City, in all honesty, requires no real preparation in terms of visiting. You can spend a couple of hours here or a full day and just decide on the spot what you want to see or do. Its real beauty truly lies in the walls, the streets, the corners and the little details you find here, rather than museums, galleries or other touristic attractions.
Places like Mdina are always top on our list of explorations. Not only do they bring back to life in exquisite details long-gone times – breaking the course of everyday feel – but they are also opportunities to enrich one’s views on the history, the culture and the people of the place. It is so easy in Mdina to connect to the soul of those that transformed Malta in the architectural and cultural gem that she is today.
MDINA on Google Maps
If you have visited Mdina let us know how you liked it and if you haven’t is it a place you would like to see?
Thanks for reading and until next time, Happy Lives and Joyful Journeys everyone!