One of the coolest cities we visited in Malta was Mdina. Mdina is an amazing medieval city located near the center of the island. This city has a long history dating back as far as 4000BC! The architecture there today can be attributed to the period of Arab rule over the island. It is nicknamed the “silent city” because almost no cars are allowed into the city and there are only about 300 residents who live inside the city walls today. We were lucky to have to opportunity to visit this city by day and by night.
When we arrived late one night, we parked the car and walked through the massive city gates. The streets were empty. It felt like we were walking the streets of an abandoned city. Lanterns lined the narrow streets, casting an eerie golden hue on the limestone buildings. It was AWESOME! We decided to sit down for a while so that we could really take it all in. We found a really nice ledge atop the city wall that looked down over the island. Surrounded by medieval architecture, the lights in the neighboring villages twinkled around us as we soaked it all in.
As we were getting ready to leave, our Maltese friend Joe said that there were a little pastry and tea place we must try. To our pleasant surprise, even though it was after 1 am the shop was open and busy! The nice gentleman that ran the shop was up and working away. We ordered 5 teas and 10 traditional Maltese pastries called pastizzi. I would describe these pastries as incredibly flaky, with a soft and buttery inside and a crisp outside. They fill them with one of two things, ricotta cheese or peas. We tried both of these and, they were both really good. Our bill was a total of €5 for everything. What a great way to conclude our experience of Mdina at night!
When we arrived in the city the next day, I must say, some of the magic was gone. The streets were busy with tourists and cluttered with the few cars they allow inside the gates. I felt so lucky that I had seen the city the night before. I was truly able to understand why they call it “the silent city”. Walking the streets and narrow passageways were still pretty awesome, but nothing in comparison to the night before.
Per our friend Joe’s recommendation, we decided to have a snack and some coffee at the Fontanella Tea Garden. This place had gorgeous garden areas, a terrace full of potted plants and gorgeous views. The food was good and the coffee was just what we needed to continue exploring. While walking around post caffeine buzz, we were able to appreciate the small alleyways and winding streets that much more.
After we walked around the city we decided to go into the Mdina Dungeons where they have a wax torture museum. The cost of the museum was €4 and it seemed like a good way to spend part of our time. This museum was very extensive and done fairly well. We walked around and were able to read a lot about the history of the city and the various ways that they went about punishing the people who lived there. It was especially interesting because so many different groups governed the island over the years. The rules and methods of torture changed frequently.
Another interesting fact about Mdina is that it was the filming site for King’s Landing in the HBO series Game of Thrones during season 1. We are big fans of the show and look forward to watching season 1 again so that we can see what they have done with this remarkable city!