Get to the heart of Malta
Mdina sits on a high rocky outcrop at the centre of Malta. This was the island's capital for 1700 years from the time of the Romans (who called it Melite), through the Arabs (for whom it was Medina), until the arrival of the Knights of St John in 1530. These seafarers moved the capital to the coast but the Maltese aristocracy stayed in Mdina and it is still a place of tiny medieval alleyways and noble limestone palazzos - something of a living museum.
To wander back in time
Mdina is a magical place to wander around. Its maze-like streets, blessedly too narrow for any real traffic, are full of little surprises - like the chapel of St Agnes, patron saint of Mdina, and the ‘hole-in–the-wall’ makeshift gate through the fortifications, allowing the tiny city’s residents to get quickly to the railway that briefly ran nearby in the 18th century.
Carmelites and chastity belts
Mdina has a remarkable selection of less-obvious museums. Besides the well-known cathedral and its museum, Mdina has two of Malta’s best private museums: the peaceful and interesting Carmelite Priory Museum, in what is still a functioning priory, and Palazzo Falson, an eclectic collection of objets d’arts (including a rare Napoleonic watch with only 10 hours and a Victorian chastity belt) in a 700-year-old house.
Stroll around Mdina in the evening when the tour groups have gone and you have it almost to yourself. Whether the sun is setting on the warm yellow of the local limestone or it is one of the few streetlights glowing, this is the most atmospheric time to be here, and the time when it earns its nickname, The Silent City. When you have wandered enough head for…
A plate with a view
For such a small place Mdina has a remarkable number of good eateries, some tucked away in atmospheric old buildings, others atop the fortifications with panoramic views over the surrounding country - particularly good on a summer Saturday night when you may see festa fireworks popping across the land.
Attard and the “three villages”
I have included a hotel and restaurant in this area under Mdina. They aren’t far away and this is an area those who like Mdina might appreciate - an upmarket residential corner of inland Malta that has changed little in the past decades. Wander through San Anton public gardens - once the gardens of a wealthy Grandmaster of the Knights - for a bit of greenery and shade.