Take a look at any travel blog, vlog, or travel brochure and you’ll see Mdina: The Silent City emboldened and underlined as an absolute must see when visiting Malta.
A trip here is an adventure into a magical world filled with knights, palaces, shipwrecks, medieval wars and the discovery of treasures.
Is it any wonder it happens to be one of my favourite attractions on the Maltese islands and where I’ll be taking you in today’s post.
Upon approach to Mdina’s medieval gates, it’s clear by these centuries old fortifications that the city you’re about to enter is an ancient one rich in culture. Mdina dates back over 4000 years and was colonised by the Phoenicians in the 8th Century.
Mdina is steeped in history and I personally found it the perfect starting point to learn more about Malta’s vibrant history. Did you know: There are mentions of Mdina in the Holy Bible?
It states: Apostle Paul was greeted by the governor of Melite (Malta’s name under Roman rule) when he was shipwrecked here on the islands in 60 A.D (or words to effect).
The Phoenicians were not the only rulers of the Maltese Islands but before the Knights of Malta there were other successors.
The Normans conquered Mdina in 1091 and evidence of their reign can be seen in architecture throughout the Silent City. In fact, as you walk beyond the gates, getting lost between narrow alleyways you’re transported back in time by Arab, Baroque and Medieval architecture.
The Silent City
You can hear a pin drop in The Silent City (well almost). It is a car free zone (with the exception of residents) and it feels wonderful being able to roam free without the worry of an approaching car. It is thought that Mdina received its silent status following the siege of Malta in 1565.
The Knights of Malta moved the capital of Malta from The Silent City to what is now Birgu, leaving behind a ghost town. Today in Mdina there are under 300 residents living in the noble palaces and villas which have been passed down from generation to generation since the 12th Century.
Silence is taken seriously here and businesses trading within the confines of this 0.9 sq km walled city must adhere to strict noise regulations.
Mdina is also signposted throughout reminding visitors to respect noise restrictions. With that said, please don’t do what I did… there’s no need to whisper as you enter the gate. Normal talking is allowed!
St Pauls Cathedral
Although St Pauls Cathedral stands on the site where the Roman Governor of Malta – (or more accurately Melite) welcomed the shipwrecked St Paul in 60 AD, it is not the same church. The original church was destroyed in a powerful earthquake which struck the island in 1693.
This baroque St Paul’s Cathedral was built between 1697 and 1702 by Lorenzo Gafai to replace the destroyed Norman one. Stepping inside is truly a cultural, historical and religious delight. Here you’ll feel as if you have stumbled on a national treasure.
Fontanella Tea Garden
After taking in all that history there is time for one last thing…
Fontanella Tea Garden serves what seems like every cake imaginable and even the ones you can’t. I’m not sure there is anywhere else on the island where you can sit 200 metres above sea level, taking in the views all whilst eating the most decadent cakes.
P.s. They serve a range of savoury foods too.
Getting to Mdina
Mdina: The Silent City is in the North West of Malta and is closest to: Attard, Zebbug, and Mosta (but still very easy to get to from all localities.) Being a beautiful attraction you’ll find road signs getting you there.
Where to park around Mdina
Although Mdina is a car free zone (such bliss), there are a few parking spots all within walking of Mdina):
Limited parking is available just outside Mdina’s entrance. (Look out for a playground).
You can also find more available parking if you head through the moat of Mdina.
Getting to Mdina by bus
There are several bus routes going to and from to Mdina and from various parts of the island.
All the following bus routes are direct and stop at Mdina:
From Valletta Main Bus Terminus:
- Route 53 (destination Rabat – 30 mins).
- 52 and 56 (destination Dingli – 45-60 mins)
Routes 50 (destination Rabat – 45 mins)
51 (destination Mtarfa – 45 mins)
From Bugibba/Qawra (Bus Terminus) and St Paul’s Bay – Triq il-Mosta (Main Road):
- Route 186 (45 mins)
- Route X3 (40 mins)
- Route 202 (45-60 mins)
From St Julians: (Bus stops Balluta, Olivier, Spinola, Ross or San Giljan)
- Route 202 (45-60 mins)
From Malta Airport International (Main Terminus:
- Bus Routes 201 & X3 (45 min)
P.s. Don’t forget to swing by and take a pic of the blue door. It’s the most instagrammable place in Malta.
Love and light,