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Città Notabile, Città Vecchia
City and Local council
From top: Skyline, Cathedral, Main Gate, Palazzo Santa Sofia, Palazzo Vilhena
From top: Skyline, Cathedral, Main Gate, Palazzo Santa Sofia, Palazzo Vilhena
Flag of Mdina
Coat of arms of Mdina
Coat of arms
Nickname(s): The Silent City
Mdina in Malta.svg
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Country  Malta
Region Northern Region
District Western District
Borders Attard, Mtarfa, Rabat
 • Mayor Peter Dei Conti Sant Manduca (PN)
 • Total 0.9 km2 (0.3 sq mi)
Population (March 2014)
 • Total 292
 • Density 320/km2 (840/sq mi)
Demonym(s) Midjan (m), Midjana (f), Midjani (p)
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 • Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Postal code MDN
Dialing code 356
ISO 3166 code MT-29
Patron saint St. Peter
St. Paul
Our Lady of Mount Carmel
Day of festa 29 June
4th Sunday of July
Website Official website
Buses 50, 51, 52, 53, 56 from Valletta terminus, stop at bus stop named "Rabat 3" [1]
View of Mdina from the countryside below

Mdina (English: Notabile, or Maltese: L-Imdina [lɪmˈdɪnɐ]; Phoenician: 𐤌𐤋𐤉𐤈𐤄, Melitta, Ancient Greek: Melitte, Μελίττη), also known by its titles Città Vecchia or Città Notabile, is a fortified city in the Northern Region of Malta. It served as the island's capital from antiquity until 1530, when the capital was moved to Birgu.

Mdina is a medieval walled town situated on a hill in the centre of the island. Punic remains uncovered beyond the city’s walls suggest the importance of the general region to Malta’s Phoenician settlers. Mdina is commonly called the "Silent City" by natives and visitors.[2] The town is still confined within its walls, and has a population of just under 300,[3] but it is contiguous with the village of Rabat, which takes its name from the Arabic word for suburb, and has a population of over 11,000.


Aerial view of Mdina and its fortifications

Evidence of settlements in Mdina goes back to before 4000 BC. It was possibly first fortified by the [Phoenicians] around 700 BC, because of its strategic location on one of the highest points on the island and as far from the sea as possible. When Malta had been under the control of the Roman Empire, the Roman Governor built his palace there. Legend has it that it was here, in around 60 CE, that Paul the Apostle lived after his shipwreck on the islands.

Mdina owes its present architecture to the Arab period, from 870 until the Normans conquered Malta in 1091. They surrounded the city with thick defensive fortifications and a wide moat, separating it from its nearest town, Rabat.

In 1429, Hafsid Saracens attempted to take the city but were repelled by its defenders.[4]

When the Order of Saint John arrived in Malta on 26 October 1530, Grandmaster Philippe Villiers de L'Isle-Adam promised to uphold the rights of the Maltese people, and was given the keys of Mdina. The Order went on to settle in Birgu, and Mdina lost its status as capital city. The nobility of Mdina were rather hostile to the Order since they lost most of their power over the rest of the population.[5] The medieval fortifications of Mdina were upgraded during the reign of Juan de Homedes y Coscon, and the city withstood a brief Ottoman attack in 1551. At the end of the Great Siege of Malta of 1565, the defenders of Mdina scared away the Ottoman army that was retreating from their failed siege of the Order's base in the Grand Harbour by firing their cannons, despite having very little ammunition. Mdina's fortifications were again upgraded in the 17th century, when the large De Redin Bastion was built.

The city was severely damaged by the 1693 Sicily earthquake, and a large number of buildings were destroyed. After the earthquake, the cathedral was demolished and rebuilt on the designs of the Maltese architect Lorenzo Gafà. Mdina was extensively restored in the course of the eighteenth century, and Baroque elements were introduced in the largely medieval city.[6] Plans were made to strengthen the city with more fortifications but these were never implemented as the Order focused on the fortifications at the harbour area.[7]

Mdina was briefly occupied by French forces from June 1798. French rule did not last long because Mdina was taken over by Maltese rebels on 2 September 1798. This event marked the beginning of a two-year uprising and blockade of French forces in Malta's harbour area, by Maltese insurgents aided by British, Neapolitan and Portuguese troops. Mdina was an important base for the Maltese insurgents during the blockade.

Mdina was linked to the present capital Valletta with the Malta Railway from 1883 to 1931.


Today, no cars (other than a limited number of residents, emergency vehicles, wedding cars and hearses) are allowed in Mdina, partly why it has earned the nickname 'the Silent City'. The city displays an unusual mix of Norman and Baroque architecture, including several palaces, most of which serve as private homes.

The city's fortifications began to be restored in 2008 and restoration was expected to be complete by July 2015.[8][9]

Places of interest


Founded in 2006, the Mdina Knights are currently enjoying a positive moment in the third division league organised by Malta's football governing body, the Malta Football Association.

Streets in Mdina

  • Misraħ il-Kunsill Ċittà Notabile (Notabile City Council Square)
  • Piazza San Pawl (St Paul Square)
  • Piazza San Publiju (St Publius Square)
  • Piazza tal-Arċisqof (Archbishop Square)
  • Piazza tas-Sur (Bastion Square)
  • Piazzetta Beata Marija Adeodata Pisani (Blessed Maria Adeodata Pisani Square)
  • Triq Inguanez (Inguanez Street)
  • Triq is-Sur (Bastion Street)
  • Triq San Pawl (St Paul Street)
  • Triq Santu Rokku (St Roch Street)
  • Triq Villegaignon (Villegaignon Street)

In popular culture



  2. Craven, John (2 March 2009). "Celebrity travel: Starry knights and three-pin plugs in Malta". Daily Mail. Retrieved 22 March 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Estimated Population by Locality 31st March, 2014". Government of Malta. 16 May 2014. Archived from the original on 21 June 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Cauchi, Mark (12 September 2004). "575th anniversary of the 1429 Siege of Malta". Times of Malta. Retrieved 20 February 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Sciberras, Sandro. "A. The Early Years of the Order of St John in Malta" (PDF). St Benedict College. Retrieved 18 April 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Sciberras, Sandro. "C. Some of the Order's Projects in Malta" (PDF). St Benedict College. Retrieved 18 April 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Fortification building spree left Mdina out". The Malta Independent. 30 March 2014. Retrieved 18 April 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "Steel rods come to St Paul's bastions' rescue". Times of Malta. 6 February 2011. Retrieved 18 April 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "Mdina bastions restoration works to continue". Times of Malta. 4 September 2014. Retrieved 18 April 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Newton, Jennifer (30 April 2014). "The real-life locations for Game Of Thrones: Stunning locations where TV's smash hit swords and sorcery show is filmed". Daily Mail. Retrieved 18 April 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>