Mdina, Malta - The Silent City
|Map of Malta|
Narrow street in Mdina
|Elaborate door knocker in Mdina|
The houses have magnificent doors with elaborate knockers. Some tourists were tempted to use these door knockers simply to reassure themselves that the city had not been abandoned. It is said that residents responded by screwing the knockers to their striking plates, thereby preserving the silence of the city. That is how the city is known - "the silent city". The great walls of the city certainly keep the noise away. Visiting Mdina is like going back in time.
|St. Paul’s Cathedral Mdina Malta|
Mdina was for many years the capital of Malta. The walls were built on the hilltop in about 1000 BC. The area inside the walls was named "Malet", which means place of shelter. Then the Romans arrived and renamed the city "Melita". By 900 AD, the Arabs had taken over and called the city "Mdina", which is Arabic for "walled city". By the year 1250, the Arabs had been expelled from Malta, but the name "Mdina" was retained. Under Christian rule, Mdina continued as the capital of the island. The ruling elite lived there and built their palaces within the city walls. It's fortunate for them that they did, because for hundreds of years, the island suffered from pirate and Muslim invasions. Mdina itself was under siege from the Moors in 1429 and the Turks in 1551. In both cases, those great walls enabled the defenders to withstand the siege. But times were changing.
Knights of the Order of St. John
|Napoleon captures Malta|
There is much that I could have written about Malta, about its sister islands and about its heroic record in World War Two. I could have written about the bustling capital of Valletta and its great harbor, once home to a huge British Mediterranean fleet. But the memory that is foremost in my mind is of the silent city of Mdina, steeped in thousands of years of history and quite unlike anywhere else.
This piece, written by Bob, was originally posted on our website on March 26, 2009.