/Mdina, Malta’s Ancient “Silent City”

Mdina, Malta’s Ancient “Silent City”

While Malta’s gorgeous, crystal-clear water makes it best known today as a Mediterranean vacation hotspot, the island nation also has its share of incredible history.

The land was settled in 5200 BCE – almost seven thousand years ago – by the Phoenicians.

The country is strewn with the ruins of ancient Megalithic temples (built around 3000 BCE) and boasts a still-functional walled medieval village crowning the “mountain” at the center of the island.

This town, the “Silent City” of Mdina, used to be Malta’s capital and dates back to 700 BCE. It’s still home to approximately three hundred – likely very wealthy – individuals today.

Mdina (the Silent City) in Malta

Mdina looms impressively from below, but once you’re within the walls it’s actually quite small. You can visit the church or the museum or any one of the dozens of shops, but the real magic comes from exploring the narrow, twisting streets.

Most are wide enough for a horse-drawn carriage to slip through, but just barely! Decorated with brightly colored plants, iron light fixtures, and cheerfully painted doors, it’s not an exaggeration to say that these quiet historical passageways were the highlight of our trip to Mdina.

Walking silently through the street and trailing your fingers along the stucco wall, you can’t help but imagine what it would have been like to live here thousands of years ago…

The narrow streets of Mdina (the Silent City) in Malta

Mdina (the Silent City) in Malta Mdina (the Silent City) in Malta

And while I was primarily enamored with what’s on the inside, even I can admit that the view from the top isn’t exactly one to scoff at!

From Mdina you can see much of Malta – its farms, cities, and the sea – laid out before you.

View of Malta from Mdina (the Silent City)

View of Malta from Mdina (the Silent City)

General Tips for Visiting Mdina

  • Admission into Mdina itself is free.
  • Visit early in the day, before the large tour buses start arriving. The timeless charm of the Silent City is significantly diminished with hundreds of tourists clogging the narrow streets!
  • If you’d like to visit the beautiful old Catholic church, wear modest clothing. Mdina gets hot, but summer attire (shorts/tanks) are not permitted inside.
  • For a stunning view while dining, try Fontanella Tea Garden. The food was delicious (the best we had in Malta) and reasonably priced, there was a cool breeze blowing over the ramparts… and the view is quite likely the best in the whole country!

View of Malta from Mdina (the Silent City)

Getting to Mdina

  • Taking a bus is the cheapest option (approximately €2.50 roundtrip from Buggiba or Valetta) and takes 20-30 minutes.
  • Don’t trust bus numbers found online; Malta’s bus system underwent a complete renovation in August 2011, so much of the information you’ll find is outdated. I can tell you that we took line X3 from Buggiba to Mdina, but your best bet is to check in person before your trip.
  • The bus actually drops you off in the neighboring town of Rabat, but from the bus stop it’s only a five-minute walk into Mdina itself.
  • Many people opt to take a taxi, which will cost about 2€0 from Valetta or €25 from Buggiba.
  • You can also visit Mdina as part of a day tour, which can be booked at any one of the zillion excursion shops around Malta.

Mdina (the Silent City) in Malta