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Città Notabile, Città Vecchia, The Silent City
|City and Local council|
|Il-Kunsill Lokali tal-Imdina|
|Motto: Città Notabile|
|Borders||Rabat, Mtarfa, Attard|
|• Mayor||Peter Dei Conti Sant Manduca (PN)|
|• Total||0.9 km2 (0.3 sq mi)|
|Population (March 2013)|
|• Density||330/km2 (850/sq mi)|
|Demonym||Midjan (m), Midjana (f), Midjani (p)|
|Time zone||CET (UTC+1)|
|• Summer (DST)||CEST (UTC+2)|
|Patron saint||St. Peter and St. Paul; Our Lady of Mount Carmel|
|Day of festa||June 29; 4th Sunday of July|
|Buses 51, 52, 53 from Valletta terminus, Stop at Bus Stop named "Saqqajja" or "Rabat 3".|
Mdina, Città Vecchia, or Città Notabile, (English: Notabile, or Imdina; Phoenician: 𐤌𐤋𐤉𐤈𐤄, Melitta, Ancient Greek: Melitte, Μελίττη) was the old capital of Malta. Mdina is a medieval walled town situated on a hill in the centre of the island. Punic remains uncovered beyond the city’s walls suggest the importance of the general region to Malta’s Phoenician settlers. Mdina is commonly called the "Silent City" by natives and visitors. The town is still confined within its walls, and has a population of just under three hundred, but it is contiguous with the village of Rabat, which takes its name from the Arabic word for suburb, and has a population of over 11,000.
Evidence of settlements in Mdina goes back to over 4000 BC. It was possibly first fortified by the Phoenicians around 700 BC, because of its strategic location on one of the highest points on the island and as far from the sea as possible. When Malta had been under the control of the Roman Empire, the Roman Governor built his palace there. Legend has it that it was here, in around 60 CE, that the Apostle St. Paul lived after his (historical) shipwreck on the islands.
Mdina owes its present architecture to the Arab period, from 870 until the Normans conquered Malta in 1091. They surrounded the city with thick defensive fortifications and a wide moat, separating it from its nearest town Rabat.
At the end of the Siege of Malta, the defenders of Mdina famously scared away the Turkish army that was retreating from their failed siege of the Knights of St. John at the future site of Valletta by firing their cannons, despite having very little ammunition.
A strong earthquake in 1693 destroyed a large number of buildings in Mdina. After the earthquake the cathedral was rebuilt on the designs of the Maltese architect Lorenzo Gafa and Baroque elements were introduced to the cityscape.
Today, no cars (other than a limited number of residents, emergency vehicles, wedding cars and hearses) are allowed in Mdina, partly why it has earned the nickname 'the Silent City'. The city displays an unusual mix of Norman and Baroque architecture, including several palaces, most of which serve as private homes. The impressive cathedral is fronted by a large square.
Most of Mdina's palaces serve as private homes. The impressive Cathedral of the Conversion of St Paul is fronted by a large square. Only a limited number of resident and emergency vehicles, wedding cars and hearses are allowed within Mdina.
Places of interest
- St. Paul's Cathedral
- Vilhena Palace
- Palazzo Falson (Norman House)
- Palazzo Gatto Murina
- Palazzo Santa Sophia
- St. Agatha's Chapel
- St. Nicholas' Chapel
- Natural History Museum
- Mdina Dungeons
- Carmelite Church & Convent
- Mdina Experience
- Benedictine Monastery
- Bastion Square
Streets in Mdina
- Misraħ il-Kunsill Ċittà Notabile (Notabile City Council Square)
- Piazza San Pawl (St Paul Square)
- Piazza San Publiju (St Publius Square)
- Piazza tal-Arċisqof (Archbishop Square)
- Piazza tas-Sur (Bastion Square)
- Piazzetta Beata Marija Adeodata Pisani (Blessed Maria Adeodata Pisani Square)
- Triq Inguanez (Inguanez Street)
- Triq is-Sur (Bastion Street)
- Triq San Pawl (St Paul Street)
- Triq Santu Rokku (St Roch Street)
- Triq Villegaignon (Villegaignon Street)
Mdina in culture
Representation in fiction
Mdina (together with Birgu and Gozo) plays a significant role in The Disorderly Knights, the third book of the acclaimed Lymond Chronicles by Dorothy Dunnett, which is set around the events of the Dragut Raid of 1551 when the Ottomans briefly besieged the city.
Mdina Gate, the city's main entrance, designed by the French architect Charles François de Mondion in 1724.
- Craven, John (2 March 2009). "Celebrity travel: Starry knights and three-pin plugs in Malta". Daily Mail. Retrieved 22 March 2010.
- Estimated Population by Locality 31st March, 2013. Malta Government Gazette 19,094. Retrieved 11 June 2014.
- History of Mdina