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This blog is dedicated to Malta - my island home. My aim is not to bore you with history but to share my thoughts and a few facts together with a photo or two. For a more in -depth background of the island please go here. The purpose of this blog is not to point out the short-comings of the island. There are plenty that do that already. My wish is to show you the beauty of an island at the cross roads of the Mediterranean, a melting pot of history; a place where fact and fiction are sometimes fused to create unique myths and legends; a country that has been conquered so many times that our culture is a mish mesh of the lands that surround us and of lands far away. I confess that my greatest desire is to make you fall in love with this tiny enchanting island.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Silent City

If Malta had a crown, then Mdina would be its jewel. Situated on hill, it has seen its fair share of invading armies and battles. Yet its walls have withstood the test of time and today it passes its days silently dreaming of its past.

A Ride on the Train (22)

Mdina was the capital city of Malta until the construction of Valletta in 1566. Its narrow streets are lined with medieval buildings amongst which are interspersed various palaces from the Baroque era.

Mdina 004 Mdina 030

Unearthed remains indicate that Mdina has been inhabited since Punic times and was the chief city of Malta during the Roman era, when it was much larger and incorporated a large part of the neighbouring city of Rabat within its walls. During the Arab conquest of Malta, Mdina was reduced to its current size, but continued to maintain its status as the capital city of the island. It was during this time that the city was fortified with high bastion walls and a dry moat.

End June 051

When Malta was handed over to the Knights of St John in 1530, the nobility residing in Mdina handed the keys of the city to Grand Master L’Isle Adam. Being a sea-faring Order, the Knights preferred to reside in the maritime city of Birgu where they could be close to their ships. After the Great Siege of 1566, Grand Master La Vallette laid the foundation stone of the new capital city, Valletta. Following this, Mdina faced a period of decline which was made worse by an earthquake in 1693 which destroyed many buildings of the old city including the Gothic cathedral. In later years various palaces and buildings were constructed by the Knights who tried to instill new life into the now almost deserted city. However it never quite recaptured the vibe of its heyday. Its inhabitants dwindled from 4000 in the middle ages to around 400 in the present day.

By day, Mdina is thronged with tourists. By night, it belongs to the ghosts of the past.

Mdina by night (4)Mdina by night (13)

It has endured much and has emerged unscathed. In an age when everything is continuously changing, it has remained constant, its beauty undiminished, its mystery unsolved. Perhaps one day it will break the silence and tell us its story. Perhaps one day it will tell us the names of the people that walked its streets hundreds of years ago. But I think that we will have to be content to use our imagination and make up stories about its past. Because, like a proper lady, Mdina knows that its charm lies in revealing almost nothing about itself and so it beckons the intrigued visitor, inviting him to discover her charms. But, like the ladies of old, it remains aloof and discreet, sheltered behind its high walls and smiling secretly in the knowledge that it will endure long after the mortals that walk through the streets are no more.

End June 059

11 comments:

  1. Great pictures! I absolutely fell in love with Mdina when my fiance and I were there this past April. We hope to get married somewhere in Mdina (god willing) this July when we move to Malta!

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  2. Fascinating post about the city of Mdina. Your images add to the mystery, I especially like the shadows in the last one.

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  3. You take such wonderful photos!!
    What a great peek into a fascinating place....

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  4. Beautiful pictures, and fascinating information about Mdina. It must be great to walk around in this city that's full of history!

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  5. Loree, thank you for sharing these gorgeous photos of Malta and Mdina! Also thank you for commenting at my blog... :)

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  6. I think after I have saved for Vancouver to visit my son, I will have to have a trip to Malta. Gorgeous pics, thanks for sharing.

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  7. I can see why there would be so many tourist in Mdina, it's a beautiful place. Your photos are wonderful Loree. Oh to live amonst such history. The Tea Garden with it's red door and red shutters are my favorite!

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  8. I have never been to your beautiful island, nut this blog and your pics sure makes me reconsider it! Looks fantastic! I wanna fo to Malta!

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  9. simply beautifully captured shots...lovely!

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  10. We loved all the architecture in Mdina (and all those wonderful door knockers!), but if you ask my son his favorite part was the carriage ride :).

    PS He's only 8.5 now, if this is what 3rd grade is like I don't even want to imagine the teenage years!

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  11. beautiful pictures, the read door in your shot really stands out!

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