Another day sightseeing! This time we drove about 20 minutes from our hotel to the ancient walled city of Mdina. It really is a stunning sight as you approach, perched on a hillside, with great golden stone walls and ramparts, the tops of domed churches and palaces visible. It is probably my favourite place on Malta to visit so I was looking forward to returning to the ancient streets.
Mdina dates back nearly 4000 years in parts and it is believed that it was here in 60AD that St Paul was housed after the shipwreck on his way to trial in Rome. Much of the town that survives is medieval and it was the capital of the island for most of its history. It is known as the silent city because only about 250 people live within its walls and cars are banned other than for a very few residents. Walking around it, really feels like you have gone way back in time. It really is incredibly atmospheric and beautiful. Well worth lingering over if you ever visit. A must see.
There are many interesting buildings to visit within the walls including the Cathedral, the museums and various palaces, as well as just wandering the picturesque streets and enjoying the stunning views over the island from the ramparts. Mdina is often used as a film set. Malta has been the set for many films including Gladiator and Troy. More recently Mdina was Kings Landing in the first series of Game of Thrones and other parts of the islands were used for the scenes between Daenerys and Khal Drogo including their wedding.
Adjoining Mdina is Rabat, a small town of around 1100 people, almost as picturesque. It is here that you can visit the Domus Romana, a Roman villa with excellent mosaic floors, now a museum. It is also where the catacombs of St Paul are to be found. It is believed that St Paul based himself in a grotto here during the 3 months he was in Malta. The Roman city of Melita was here and the governor Lucius was a convert. The catacombs are most interesting and we had a good explore. They have been used as Roman burial chambers, prisons, sanctuary from pirates and bomb shelters in WW2. The Grotto, which is the largest chamber contains religious statuary and altars and leads up to the Church of St Paul. It’s quite easy to get lost down there.
We were hot when we came out so we sat in the main square and had cold drinks. They seem to be getting ready for a massive festival. Lots of pillars and extra lighting going up. I would like to go back up there one evening before we leave and see Mdina especially by night.
We are going to Gozo to dive tomorrow so we routed back via Maltaqua and picked up 6 fresh tanks. Also got a neoprene vest for Daisy to wear under her wetsuit as she feels the cold very much. The water is about 20C at depth and neither Bob and I find that cold in our suits but she is often shaking with cold when she comes out. No fat! Spent the afternoon sunbathing and swimming in the hotel pool. An early night tonight as we are catching the 730 ferry to Gozo in the morning.