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Things To Do in Mdina

By November 15, 2020 November 16th, 2020 No Comments

This article will give you an elaborate list of the top things to do in Malta, with a special emphasis on the ancient Maltese city of Mdina.

About Mdina

The old capital city of Malta, otherwise known as ‘the silent city’ is one of those must-see gems of the island.

The walled city of Mdina was once Malta’s capital up until the 16th century.

In fact, it is renowned for being the place where both Maltese nobility and the rich resided before the Great Siege.

First built by the Phoenicians, Mdina used to be a plain small village near Rabat until it was conquered by the Arabs who built walls for its defence, and thus turning it into the fortress city that we know today. 

This small city made up of narrow roads and a strict car restriction attracts more than 80,000 tourists a year. 

This is no surprise as there is no shortage of Baroque buildings, palaces, churches and even a cathedral for people to enjoy.

In fact, the entire location is like a step back in time. 

This stunning city is on UNESCO’s list which says that “it deserves every degree of protection possible to ensure its survival for the benefit of both future generations and national pride”.

This city provides us with plenty of things to do in Malta.

Mdina Dungeons

Located a short distance from Mdina’s main gate is the Mdina dungeons.

This tourist attraction is one of a kind on the island and definitely be on your list of things to do in Malta. 

This is the perfect place to have a creepy adventure.

Wander through the narrow, dimly lit passageways and chambers of the dungeons which run under the Vilhena Palace and experience recreated scenes, complete with sound effects of a dark and often forgotten side of medieval Malta.

This is definitely a great sight to see and should definitely be one of your first things to do in Malta during your holiday.

National Museum of Natural History

This is a fantastic option to add to your list of things to do in Malta.

The National Museum of Natural History is situated in the breathtaking eighteenth-century palace known as Vilhena Palace, which has a long history serving as a hospital in the nineteenth and twentieth-century for the ill as well as British troops. 

Vilhena Palace became the home to the National Museum of Natural History in 1973, where one can find a number of areas on display within the palace.

These cover a vast array of different natural topics ranging from Maltese geology such as Maltese birds, fish, and mammals, to more exotic animals and habitats. 

vertebrates. Here one can truly discover the importance of the animals of the past which existed in Malta, Gozo, as well as the small and uninhabited Maltese islands of Fifla, St Paul’s and Fungus Rock.

The museum is also worth visiting just to see the gorgeous interior of the Palazzo Vilhena on your list of things to do in Malta.

 The palace was designed in Parisian Baroque style for the Grand Master Antonio Manoel de Vilhena who it was named after. 

Truly a sight for sore eyes, and should definitely be on the top of your list of things to do in Malta.

St Paul’s Catacombs

Right next to Mdina, about a twenty-minute walk to the neighbouring village of Rabat, in the region of Ħal Bajjada are St Paul’s Catacombs. 

Albeit not actually in Mdina, but this does very much play a part in Mdina’s history and deserves a place on your list of things to do in Malta.

These are a series of underground chambers known as which were used as a resting place and are said to have still been in use up until around the eighth century. 

This is the largest complex of an interconnected, underground cemetery on the island

These burial chambers are the earliest and largest recorded evidence of the earliest Christian settlers on the island to date, as it is a known fact that Phoenician law forbids burials in the city. 

In the times of ancient Rome, Jews, Christians and pagans, were buried in these catacombs. 

Interestingly, Maltese Christians also began to make use of this underground labyrinth as a venue for their secret religious services and rituals, and also when they were persecuted by the Roman emperors.

This is a very interesting site to visit on your list of things to do in Malta.

St. Agatha’s Historical Complex and Catacombs

These are another set of catacombs which are relatively close by which provide one of many nice things to do in Malta.

These catacombs got their name from an ancient local legend.

Legend has it that in the middle of the third century, St. Agatha, who is now considered one of the most famous saints of the early Christian period, made a getaway from Sicily and found shelter in Maltese catacombs, while she was trying to escape from persecution. 

According to legend, St. Agatha prayed in a tiny underground basilica which was carved in the rock of the local labyrinths. 

Later, after the dramatic and brutal death of this martyr, this underground crypt was named after St. Agatha. 

Then, the crypt was expanded and became a place of Christian worship – an acting church of the 16th century which was dedicated to the martyr.

These are situated in beautiful surroundings, among trees and shrubs. 

There is a small museum at the entrance of St Paul and St Agatha’s Catacombs which displays an interesting and very vast collection ranging from coins to Roman, Egyptian artefacts and even Etruscan.

St. Agatha’s historical complex continues to attract plenty of tourists each year, who are interested in archaeology and in the history of early Christianity. 

The complex features a number of mysterious catacombs which host extremely ancient tombs, with age-old frescoes, and a tiny, but an exciting archaeological museum.

This is perfect for your list of things to do in Malta.

Domvs Romana, Malta

Throughout the years this Museum continued to hold Roman material and it soon became an open storage space for all the Roman artefacts found around the Island.

The small museum of the Domvs Romana is built around the remains of a rich, aristocratic roman townhouse (domvs) which was discovered in 1881. 

We now know that the Domus Romana building which previously existed was a townhouse which existed within the Roman walls of Mdina which extended much further into Rabat at the time than they do now.

Although very little remains from the house itself, it is unknown whether it simply got eroded with time, or was purposely destroyed or dismantled to re-use its stones. 

It is very obvious that it was made up of numerous lavish rooms which were built around a remarkable peristyle, which was a stunning porch containing vast columns surrounding a central courtyard. 

Amazingly, this outside area has been reconstructed using, partly some of the original stonework, such as a floor mosaic which is of outstanding quality.

The detailed mosaics such as a splendid mosaic pavement which were unearthed and survived for centuries and the artefacts found within the remains are an amazing testimony of the original richness and story of this amazing place.

Several other mosaics were also found, as well as Roman sculptures and other artefacts which turned out to be the remains of a Roman aristocratic home just outside the walls of Mdina

This is now one of the most visited tourist attractions on the island and should definitely be on the top of your list of things to do in Malta. 

It is rare that construction contributes positively to the preservation of Malta’s heritage but this was the first building in the Maltese Islands to have been purposely built to protect and host an archaeological site and collection.

Visitors of any kind should take some time during their holiday to visit this wonder and take a gander at the splendid archaeological works which it houses.

Definitely one of the top attractions and things to do in Malta while in Mdina.

Cathedral of Saint Paul

As one arrives at the main square in the centre of the city of Mdina, one can not simply miss the Cathedral of St Paul found at the heart of it. 

This site is a peculiar one as it has seen a number of buildings built on it before the well-known Cathedral of St. Paul. 

The original building which was built on that site was a Norman church which was destroyed by an earthquake which was extremely devastating in Sicily at the time. 

Then, the Cathedral of St. Paul was built. 

This baroque-style building was designed by Lorenzo Gafa and has this effect on tourists and locals alike, where it leaves those who behold it awestruck at the sheer magnitude of it. 

Reminiscent of St John’s Co-Cathedral in Valletta, the floor of St Paul’s is made up of marble tombstones of Maltese clergymen nobles, while the vault is painted with stunning scenes from the life of St Paul. 

Luckily, the famous altar painting ‘The Conversion of St Paul’ by Mattia Preti survived the earthquake, so did the beautifully carved oak doors to the sacristy.

The large variety of artistic artefacts as well as the stunning architecture of this cathedral should definitely not be missed and should be on your list of things to do in Malta. 

Cathedral Museum

A ticket to the Cathedral of Saint Paul includes entrance to the neighbouring Cathedral Museum, which is situated in the same square. 

Also housed in a beautiful Baroque building, this museum displays a number of fascinating objects which were originally in the cathedral.

The museum also features many masterpieces of European painting.

Also noteworthy are the engravings by Albrecht Durer

A two-in-one ticket means that this should also be on your list of things to do in Malta so do not miss it.

Mdina Dungeons Museum

Past Mdina’s Main Gate, just on your right beneath the Vilhena Palace is the Mdina Dungeons Museum.

The Mdina Dungeons Museum provides a truly unique but memorable and dramatic experience for the brave on often forgotten aspects of the dark past of Malta’s history – telling tales of those long forgotten.
So you should definitely consider visiting this when looking through your list of things to do in Malta.

This museum illustrates the history of prison life in Mdina which ranges from different periods in Malta’s chequered history such as Romans, Byzantine, Arabs, Knights and even French.

These were times when beheading, public executions, crucifixion, torture, crime, revolts, conspiracies, imprisonment, punishments and inquisitions were all relatively common

The attraction is made up of underground passageways that lead to chambers and cells once occupied by prisoners.

Hence, scenes have been recreated that show the brutality of medieval-era Maltese prisons. 

It is safe to say that this museum shows the darker history of Malta’s past and is another of those truly amazing things to do in Malta.

Palazzo Falson: Museum of Fine Art and Antiquities

Palazzo Falson, formerly known as Casa dei Castelletti, and the Norman House, is a medieval townhouse in Mdina, Malta.

It was believed to have been built as a family residence by the Maltese nobility in 1495, probably incorporating parts of an ancient 13th-century building, and it is named after the Falson family. 

This makes it the second oldest building in Mdina.

The building was further enlarged in the mid-16th century. Its architect is unknown, but the distinctive upper floor windows might be the work of Jacobo Dimeg. 

This piece of architectural splendour exemplifies the Sicilian-Norman style exquisitely.

Fantastically, it displays the original decor of antique furniture, oriental rugs, and fine paintings. 

As you will see, each of the rooms on display is a wonderfully vast treasure trove of artworks.

The library also contains more than four thousand books, and the kitchen displays very old cooking equipment. 

The Knights of Malta Experience

This is an amazing experience which you should definitely add to your list of things to do in Malta.

The Order of St. John of Jerusalem, also known as the Knights of Malta, has left a very important and significant stamp on the island of Malta. 

From the fortifications of our current capital Valletta, the medieval capital Mdina as well as numerous other architectural gems.

The Knights of Malta cultural attraction is a fantastic tribute to this brave religious order who ruled over the islands of Malta for over two hundred and fifty years.

Over one hundred life-like, life-size figures of the knights as well as the Grandmasters from the eight Langues, which depict what life was like times of the knights which then culminates into one of the most important wars in the history of the Maltese Islands – the Great Siege. 

These are depicted by means of dramatic sound effects reminiscent smells, and appropriate lighting which can be enjoyed, as well as digital headsets with commentary.

Interestingly, the attraction is situated in the original gunpowder vaults within the battlements of Mdina, which truly set the mood for this historic exhibition.

This is definitely worth adding to your list of things to do in Malta.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are a number of viable options which you can enjoy in Malta.

We hope that you have gained the valuable knowledge necessary to form a substantial list of things to do in Malta while on your holiday.

Stay with Us

Without a shadow of a doubt, Mdina genuinely provides a great environment which tourists enjoy over and over again during their holidays in Malta.

With the large variety of locations to see in Mdina during your holiday in Malta, you will certainly not be disappointed with the amazing adventures to be had on this archipelago.

Come and stay at 1926 Hotel and Spa to be close to the dream city!

Definitely a great option during your holiday in Malta. 

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