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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.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Medieval Mdina Festival

Last weekend the Silent City hosted the annual Medieval Mdina Festival. It is, as the name implies, a celebration of medieval life – with a lot of pomp and pageantry thrown in. For two days re-enactors in period costumes roam the streets while different activities take place around Mdina. This year I particularly enjoyed a breath-taking show by a group of Italian sbandieratori (flag throwers).

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Other events that took place included art exhibitions, human chess games, jousting and a falconry display. The entrance fee to museums and other places of interest was reduced. The Medieval Mdina Festival has become a permanent fixture in our events calendar and draws hundreds of tourists and locals to the old capital.

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Jousting and jostling humanity aside, there is a lot more that is medieval about Mdina than this annual festival but, in the general commotion that such an event creates, it is easy to overlook them. So let me take you on a small ‘guided tour’ of the medieval parts of this little city.

I have already written about the early history of Mdina in They Called Me Maleth, And Then Melite, and They Came, They Conquered And They Called me  Medina. My next installment in Mdina’s story would have touched the medieval era but  I will leave the historical  facts for another time. In reality a great part of the buildings that made up medieval Mdina were destroyed by an earthquake in 1693. Subsequent replacements were built in the Baroque style. So finding traces of the middle ages is not as easy as it might sound but they do exist.

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Palazzo Falson – a two-storey medieval palace with rooms built around an internal courtyard.

 

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The Jewish Silk Market

 

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St Peter’s monastery – (formerly St Peter’s hospital) convent to an order of cloistered Benedictine nuns since 1430.

 

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Casa Inguanez – a medieval palace that  occupies an entire block and is home to Malta’s oldest aristocratic family. In 1432, King Alfonso V of Spain and Sicily stayed here while visiting the island.

 

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Palazzo Santa Sofia – purported to be the oldest existing building in  Mdina, a building in the Siculo-Norman style. The ground floor of this building is said to have been built in 1233.

But apart from the palaces and the churches the true medieval identity of Mdina can be better seen in the houses of the ‘common folk’. The small doors and tiny windows, usually situated on a higher storey, are reminiscent of an age when pirate attacks were common and every household had to defend itself in the best way possible.

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I always find it fascinating that, even with hundreds of visitors thronging its streets, I was still able to find silent streets and quiet nooks. The festival and re-enactments are interesting but, for me, it is the lure of the Silent City itself which never ceases to fascinate me. Because no matter how many times I walk through those narrow, winding streets, I always find something new that draws my eyes upwards or downwards. With each visit I learn a new secret and this tiny, walled city continues to ensnare me in its mesh of spells.

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7 comments:

  1. I love the image of the individual smiling in full costume.

    Loree, these photographs have a real sense of movement and tumult which actually went a fair way in capturing the event for a person who was not lucky enough to be in attendance. I vicariously enjoyed this!

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  2. How fabulous Loree
    I'd love to see that in person.. at least I get to see your great shots!!

    You know those windows and lanterns are so similar to shots I took in Palma di Mallorca... spanish influence? or are they both islamic architecture?

    Have a great weekend and thanks for popping by.. ciao xxx Julie

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  3. I would have enjoyed every second of that, especially knowing that it was possible to rest in a small street!

    You got a charming smile, too! :-)

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  4. That's so beautiful ! We had one medieval festival here yesterday, but it rained so much and it was so windy that I didn't go !

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  5. Wow....such a magnificent post..such beauty! I am in love with those "flags" of the flag throwers"..totally captivates my heart..and your photos are stunning Loree..! I love that shot with the lantern hanging above..epic beauty!!
    Thankyou for this visual treat and feast for the eyes!!
    Kiki~
    PS; thankyou for the lovely comment..you made my day!

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  6. Such a wonderful, beautiful, and interesting place you live!

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