Mdina, also known by its titles Città Vecchia or Città Notabile, is a fortified city in the Northern Region of Malta, which served as the island's capital from antiquity to the medieval period.
Blogger: Cynthia Iskiw
Photography: Alan Iskiw
Visited: May 2016
For a cruise ship stop in Malta, the port of Valletta offers disembarking passengers a cornucopia of sights and sounds to savour. However, a side trip to Mdina takes only half an hour by taxi, and can be time well spent. Known as the Silent City, Malta’s former capital suddenly appears like a mirage on the horizon. Crenellated ochre walls and majestic turrets beckon visitors from afar to pass through the imposing gates.
Once inside, narrow, cobbled streets twist and turn through a maze of sand-coloured cathedrals, museums, palaces and dungeons.
Amidst the pastiche of stately Norman and Baroque architecture, the massive Cathedral of the Conversion of St. Paul towers over the main square.
Few sounds can be heard from one street corner to the next, due to the high surrounding walls, tall buildings and absence of cars. In this ancient, fortified city, the past seems very much alive.
Returning to Valletta, a stop can be made in Attard to explore the gloriously green San Anton Gardens. Originally created by a Grand Master to complement his summer residence, this utopia now delights the public with stone fountains and sculptures, fragrant roses and bright bougainvillea, three hundred year old trees from around the world, and ornamental ponds filled with ducks and swans. Such a green oasis is particularly striking in a land painted primarily with the neutral palette of a desert.
One day on a cruise itinerary does not allow much time in Malta but this small country makes a lasting impression by combining a monochromatic landscape with a colourful history.