The Silent City

4 Mar

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Mdina (Med-deena) is a fortified city that sits on the highest point on the island in the countryside of Malta. Historical sources place Mdina’s founding by the Phoenicians at some 4000 years ago. Built almost entirely of thick limestone rock its light gold walls contrast the blue sky on approach.

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For centuries the city served as the capital of Malta and home to the country’s noble families. These families trace their lineage to Norman, Sicilian and Spanish overlords who made their home in the city. For this reason Mdina is also known as Citta’ Notabile’ the Noble City. The palaces of the nobility still line its narrow streets.

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Mdina is one of Europe’s greatest examples of a walled city and is known for its mixture of medieval and baroque architecture nestled side by side. The massive rock walls create a deep barrier that has led to Mdina’s less formal name, ‘The Silent City.’

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The exterior fortifications surrounding Mdina were first built by the Phoenicians and expanded by the Romans. Over time the walls have been rebuilt many times by the Byzantine Empire, the Arabs and the Kingdom of Sicily in the medieval period before the 15th century. Most of the extant walls were built by the Knights of Malta from the 16th to the 18th centuries. Today the wide space between the  exterior walls is a sward with walking paths.

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Mdina is a “living” city in that full-time residents still live within.  Some of them are descendants of the city’s nobility. But mainly the city has become a site for tourists who can visit the museums, palazzos and great churches there.

Winter is a quiet time in Malta. Unlike spring and fall when the population soars with tourists. Early March gave us a chance to experience Mdina with relatively few others.

 

 

 

 

2 Responses to “The Silent City”

  1. Sue March 4, 2017 at 7:46 pm #

    How lovely and serene
    Cheers. Sue:)

    • Jill March 5, 2017 at 1:26 am #

      It was. And we saw it on a beautiful spring day.

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