Mdina is a small fortified Medieval city located in the centre of Malta. It is known for its rich history, cultural and architectural heritage, its maze of narrow streets and great views of the surrounding terraced countryside up to the Mediterranean sea.
Mdina was first fortified and inhabited by the Phoenicians, who called it Maleth (aka. sweet haven) dating back to 700 BC. Malta was conquered by the Roman empire following the punic wars (e.146BC) and the city was established as a municipium or a self-governing city named ‘Melite’ extending further out to the area of now Rabat.
It was reduced to its present size during the Byzantine or Arab occupation from the 5th century and AD 870 with new fortifications evidenced in a few remaining buildings, winding streets and archways. From the 11th century, the centre of the Mediterranean saw the re-Christianisation of the area by the Normans. Malta was at the time geographically, politically, ethnically and religiously part of Sicily and the history of its people is linked through similarities in its heritage. The 14th century medieval architectural beauty can be seen in a few of the mullioned windows on the facades of some palazzos. And in the European art masterpieces of the medieval St. Paul’s Cathedral can be experienced at the Metropolitan Cathedral Museum.
The Mediterranean experienced many changes by the 16th century. The Knights Hospitaller of St. John were given the keys of Mdina ceremoniously in 1530 and settled their naval base at Castellamare now Fort St Angelo. They brought with them a new wave of renaissance and baroque flair to the islands. During their tenure in Malta, they added more to the impressive fortifications around Mdina including the baroque main gate and embellishments to the Greek gate. Meanwhile the Catholic and noble community of the city sought to emulate the architectural style brought by the European knights in Valletta (built in 1567) in many of their churches and palaces. The Mdina Metropolitan Cathedral was rebuilt to the baroque design of the Maltese Architect Gafà (1639-1703) by 1705 and is today the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Malta. Mdina remained the administrative capital of the islands until the 17th century when it was moved to Valletta.
Today, Mdina is a tentative UNESCO World Heritage Site and is considered one of the best-preserved medieval cities in the world. It is a must-see destination for history and culture enthusiasts visiting Malta. The city’s well-preserved architecture, winding streets, several museums and beautiful setting offers an immersive experience into Malta’s layers of history.
Book your stay with us now to discover the magic of Mdina.