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Overview

Malta’s oldest town, Mdina, was founded by the Phoenicians and continued to grow under the Romans. During Arabic rule in 870 AD, the girdle of fortifications was redrawn for better defensibility, and hence the overspill of houses created a new contiguous suburb called Rabat. Now the two towns hold the second largest concentration of sites after Valletta. Mdina is one of the best preserved baroque cities in the world, a small town of just 400 inhabitants whose meandering alleyways and much of its buildings haven’t changed for hundreds of years. It’s also home to Malta’s cathedral, the most architecturally elegant church in the islands, and ...

Malta’s oldest town, Mdina, was founded by the Phoenicians and continued to grow under the Romans. During Arabic rule in 870 AD, the girdle of fortifications was redrawn for better defensibility, and hence the overspill of houses created a new contiguous suburb called Rabat. Now the two towns hold the second largest concentration of sites after Valletta. Mdina is one of the best preserved baroque cities in the world, a small town of just 400 inhabitants whose meandering alleyways and much of its buildings haven’t changed for hundreds of years. It’s also home to Malta’s cathedral, the most architecturally elegant church in the islands, and the excellent Cathedral Museum. Adjoining Rabat has now grown into a distinct laid-back town that is surrounded by a crisscross of rural valleys, including Malta’s only woodland, Il-Buskett, home to roosting birds of prey during bird migrations in spring and autumn. South of the town, the land rises to Dingli Cliffs, a cliff that plunges 820 feet towards the sea. Within the town, there are two complexes of early-Christian catacombs as well as a scatter of other sights, including the splendid 550-year-old cloister of the Dominican Monastery.

Victor Borg
About the Expert

Victor Borg has authored whole guidebooks to Malta and Gozo for Time Out and Rough Guides, and has contributed to other guidebooks on Libya and China, where he lives.

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Victor Borg for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    September when the temperature would have fallen from the summer peak and makes walking less sweaty, and when birds of prey descend on Il-Buskett during migration.