Mdina (also called L-Imdina or Città Notabile) is the old capital of Malta. It is a medieval town, with narrow quiet streets, situated in the centre of the island. It is also known as the "Silent City". It commands a magnificent view of the Island.
Evidence for settlement in Mdina goes back to over 4000 BCE. It was first fortified by the Phoenicians around 1000 BCE, probably because of its strategic location on one of the highest points on the island and as far from the sea as possible. When Malta came under control of the Roman Empire, the Roman Governor built his palace there.
It was here in 60 CE that the Apostle St Paul is said to have lived after being shipwrecked on the Islands. The city earned its present day name from the Saracens who came to Malta around 870 CE. They surrounded the city with thick defensive walls and a wide moat, separating it from its nearest town, Rabat. The Normans conquered Malta in 1091.
A strong earthquake in 1693 destroyed a large number of buildings in Mdina. After the earthquake the Cathedral was rebuilt on the designs of the Maltese architect Lorenzo Gafa.
Today, no cars (other than those of a limited number of residents, emergency vehicles, wedding cars and hearses) are allowed in Mdina and there is a calming atmosphere as one walks along its narrow streets and ways.
The city displays an unusual mix of Norman and Baroque architecture, including several palaces, most of which serve as private homes. The Cathedral is worth visiting and is fronted by a large square.