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Sights in Mdina and Rabat

Sights in Mdina and Rabat

The whole city of Mdina is worth seeing. The city consists of many small alleys, a huge city wall with three gates, a very nice cathedral (from inside as well as outside), an observation platform (from there you have a nice view over the northern part of Malta), and much, much more. Rabat whereas is a modern city. There are also some nice sights, as the St. Paul’s Church and Grotto, the Museum of Roman Antiquities and the St. Paul’s Catacombs. While Rabat is a bit more vital, Mdina offers more culture and history. Have fun looking through the pages.

Carmeliter Closter in Mdina


On the left side behind the Palazzo Santa Sophia lies the Carmelite Cloister. The despoliation of Napoleon in Malta, but mostly the despoliations of the Carmelite Cloister have given the initiation to start the revolution. The church is very rich ornamented.

Observation platform, Pjazza Tas-Sur or Bastion Square


From the Pjazza Tas-Sur or the Bastion Square on the northern site of the city you will have a wonderful view over the northern part of Malta. On this site there is the Fontanella Tea Garden, a Café. There they serve a delicious and nationwide famous chocolate cake - it is said that the cake is the best on the whole island.

Palazzo Santa Sophia in Mdina


The Palazzo Santa Sophia was built in the year 1233 and would consequently become the oldest building in Malta. The building is without any real attraction. The top floor was added in 1938.

Museum of Roman Antiquities in Rabat


Rabat stands partly on the area of the old roman city Melite. In 1881 a residential house from the Roman era and in 1921 it was rebuilt. Today it hosts a museum.

St. Agata’s Catacombs in Rabat


Beneath Rabat lies a widespread system of catacombs which probably had its beginning in the 2nd century and reached its peak during the 4th or 5th century.

The catacombs of St. Agatha are the most interesting. In the old chapel there is a museum; from there you also buy the entrance tickets. A small stairway leads into the catacombs from the outside of the chapel.

St. Paul’s Church and Grotto


In the centre of Rabat is located the St. Paul’s Church and Grotto – this is the worshipping centre of the Holy St. Paul in Malta. A chapel in front of the walls of Mdina was already mentioned in the year 1372, which was standing above the St. Paul-Grotto. The real cult was founded in between 1600-1617, when the Spanish noble Giovanni Beneguas lived there. Close to the church there is the statue of the apostle.

St. Paul’s Catacombs


Beneath Rabat lies a widespread system of catacombs which probably had its beginning in the 2nd century and reached its peak during the 4th or 5th century.

The St. Paul’s Catacombs are close to the St. Paul’s Church. Stairs leads to a huge room. Beneath that room lies a chapel. In the huge room there is an Agape-table - normal in all old catacombs. From the main hall there are several passages leading to the graves.

The three gates of Mdina: Main Gate, Greeks Gate and Gharreqin Gate


There are three ways, three gates, through which you can enter the city. The best and most interesting way is through the main gate which leads you directly on the main road in Mdina (Triq Villegaignon) and gives a nice insight into Mdina. The other two gates are on the south-western edge of the city, at the St. Peter’s Bastion. Both gates lead to small alleys. The Greeks Gate is normally used for cars and the Gharreqin Gate is only a small side-entrance. It was excavated in the city wall (1890) to have an access to the valley in which the former train station of Malta was located. However, the railway company went bankrupt. The baroque main gate was built by Grandmaster de Vilhena in the year 1724 to replace the old one. The part of the gate directed to the inside of Mdina shows the statues of St. Publius, St. Agatha and St. Paul. Also recognizable are the emblems of the constructor de Vilhena and the Maltese nobility family.

Triq Villegaignon of Mdina (the small main road)


The street Triq Villegaignon in Mdina is the small main road of the city. It starts after the main gate at the chapel of Sant’ Agatha and passes at the Pjazza San Pawl and the St. Paul Cathedral on the way to the Pjazza Tas-Sur, from which you will have a nice view over the northern part of Malta. Most of the important buildings have are located in that street. So you will find for example the Palazzo Inguanez, in which the Spanish King still has right of residence. Only Alfonso V. has used this right in the year 1432 and Alfonso XIII in the year 1927. You will also find the Palazzo Gatto Murina with its nice baroque facade, the Casa Testaferrata, city palace of an old family from the 17. century, the Banca Giuratale, Palazzo Santa Sophia, cloister and church of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, Palazzo Costanzo and restaurant Palazzo Notabile, Palazzo Falzon and many, many more.

St. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Mdina


The nicest and splendid building in Mdina is the St. Paul’s Cathedral. It is located in front of the square which carries the same name as the cathedral, Pjazza San Pawl. The church is very richly ornamented, inside as well as outside. The facade which is directed to the square houses two nice bell towers, a gable roof and very nice pillars.

A little bit of history:
The earthquake in 1693 which shook many parts of Malta as well as the former church (built in the 12. century) in Mdina. A new church was built in 1702 by the Maltese master-builder Lorenzo Gafà. Above the main entrance you still can see the emblems of the rulers at that time: Bishop Palmieri and Grandmaster Ramon Perellos.

In the church:
The inner of the church is richly ornamented and decorated. There are many paintings as well as frescos. Many of those were made by Mattia Preti in the 17th century. You definitely should have a look at it, it’s really impressive!!!

Vilhena Palace in Mdina


Immediately after the main gate is the Vilhena Palace. The main seat of the Universitá of Mdina was here until 1730. The Palazzo Vilhena which was named after the Grandmaster Manoel de Vilhena was constructed by him as summer palace in the year 1730. Since 1973 the Museum of Natural History is located inside.

In front of the Vilhena Palace, on the right side next to the main gate a small stairs leads to the Mdina Dungeons. There you will find a torture chamber from the middle Ages. Some scenes are pictured with life-size dolls.

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