Mdina, located at the center of Malta, is a truly magical town, dubbed "the Silent City" by the citizens of Malta and those who visit the city. The city does not allow vehicles into its premises; only Mdina city residents are allowed inside with their vehicles (which they have a permit for). This renders the city a silence like none other and can be incredibly soothing for new visitors.
This walled city, populated with just around 300 people, has become a popular tourist attraction owing to its unique Baroque architecture, timeless city attractions, and fine cultural treasures.
Top Things To Do In Mdina
You might be planning to visit Mdina this year to have a taste of its tranquil silence; you have made a great decision! Mdina is filled with plenty of tourist attractions for you to see, but there are some things you simply can't miss when you visit Mdina!
1. Visit the Mdina Gate
The Mdina Gate, also known as the Vilhena Gate, is the main gate of the city of Mdina. It incorporates stunning Baroque-style architecture, featuring double pilasters, the coat of arms of the Grandmaster António Manoel de Vilhena (who had the gate reconstructed in 1722), and a trophy of arms. You will find an impressive stone arch bridge leading to the gate, guarded by stone lions on each side.
This gate has now become a popular tourist destination, partially due to its appearance in the Game of Thrones series and its architectural design, showcasing the best of the Baroque style.
2. Roam the Pjazza Mesquita
Another incredibly popular tourist spot is the Pjazza Mesquita square; this beautiful square, like the Mdina gate, has also been exclusively featured in the Game of Thrones series. This is also a popular point for night walks through the silent city for those who want to experience the full serenity of the silent city. You will also find a few restaurants nearby featuring terraces where you can enjoy a quick meal while overlooking the city's beauty.
3. The Palazzo Falson Museum
What better way to discover Mdina’s noble past than by visiting the Palazzo Falson Museum, the epitome of Malta’s historic palaces and 700-year rich history. The Palazzo Falson is one of the oldest buildings in Mdina city, featuring a two-story palace, a series of rooms surrounding an inner courtyard with a fountain in the center.
The palace was first converted into a museum that would preserve decorative arts by the last resident and owner of the Palazzo, Captain Olaf Frederick Gollcher. Today, the museum holds over 45 valuable collections, including paintings, furniture, valuable books, oriental rugs, and weaponry.
4. Saint Paul’s Cathedral Mdina
The Cathedral of Saint Paul is another masterful incorporation of the baroque design, said to be its architect’s (Lorenzo Gafa) biggest masterpiece. Stained glass windows adorn the building, while its ceiling and dome are decorated with elaborate paintings and artifacts, the floor laid with tombstones and marble slabs. The Cathedral is considered one of the gems of the city and a must-see for any visitor!
5. Visit Carlemite Priory
The Carmelite Priory is another must-see tourist destination; it is the first priory in Midna to be open to the public, a perfect depiction of the 17th century spiritual and daily way of life. You can visit the authentic kitchen featuring the historical design, typical friars' cells, and a sober oratory, among others.
You will also be able to see the spectacular painting of the Annunciation by Stefano Erardi at the main altar and other famous paintings. The Carlemite friars who house the priory will guide you and help share a part of the Carmelite heritage. A Priory Cafe is also available, where you can enjoy food and beverages during your visit.
6. Mdina Cathedral Museum
The Mdina Cathedral Museum features elaborate stoneworks, religious iconography, and statement baroque style architecture. It sits in the same square as the Cathedral of Saint Paul. Originally constructed in 1833, this museum is built around a central courtyard filtering in sunlight to the surrounding halls year-round. The museum puts on a wonderful display of arts and antiques; many masterful pieces of European paintings are featured. You will also find the Silver collection, a complete collection of Albrecht Dürer prints, a coin collection, a wax art display, and many temporary exhibitions.
7. The Palazzo Vilhena
The Palazzo Vilhena, also known as the Magisterial Palace at Mdina, represents one of the most unique Baroque buildings in Malta. The main gateway to the Palazzo features Vilhena’s coat-of-arms, and a bronze bust of the Grandmaster of the Order sits above the main door.
Today, the palace contains several important collections of geology and paleontology, including over 10,000 rock and mineral samples, 200 mammals and fish species, 3500 birds, and thousands of exotic insects and shells, along with an impressive fossil collection.
8. Mdina Dungeons
The Mdina Dungeons are located below the Magisterial Vilhena Palace; they feature a series of underground passageways, chambers and are used to recreate events from Maltese history. If you are looking for a more sinister experience, you should visit the dungeons. You will find realistic wax figures, sounds, and text used to portray events from the past, dark and twisted at times. Executions, tortures, and gruesome punishments are shown as were done in prisons throughout history.
9. Palazzo De Piro
The Palazzo De Piro is a 19th-century palace nestled under the walls of the medieval city of Mdina. What was originally three separate houses have been joined to form the modern palace, extensively remodeled a number of times. Today, the Palazzo is operated by the Xara Palace Relais & Chateaux and is used to host private functions, conferences, and banquets, one of the major centers for Malta's arts and cultural events. The Palazzo’s unique architecture and history make it a popular tourist destination to visit.
10. Tour St Agatha’s Crypt, Catacombs & Museum
These silent city catacombs were dug out underground forming limestone corridors with tombs on each side. Some tombs are adorned with reliefs and frescoes, with some dating back to the 2nd and 3rd century AD, all dedicated to Saints Agatha. You can easily find guided tours through this historical complex and the adjoining historical museum. The entirety of the catacombs covers an area of over 4100 sq. meters and features over 500 tombs and two Agapee table placings where dinners were held in honor of the dead.
There you go, now you know what to see in Mdina Malta.