Nisha Rathode (Editor)


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Country  Malta
Area  0.9 km2
Region  Northern Region
District  Western District
Mayor  Peter Dei Conti Sant Manduca (PN)
Population  294

Mdina, Citta Vecchia, or Citta Notabile, (English: Notabile, or ; Phoenician: ?????, Melitta, Ancient Greek: Melitte, ???????) is a fortified city in the Northern Region of Malta. It served as the islands capital from antiquity until 1530, when the capital was moved to Birgu.


Map of Mdina

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. The town is still confined within its walls, and has a population of just under three hundred, 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.


Mdina in the past, History of Mdina

Evidence of settlements in Mdina goes back to over 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 the Apostle St. Paul lived after his (historical) shipwreck on the islands.

Mdina in the past, History of Mdina

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.

When the Order of Saint John arrived in Malta on 26 October 1530, Grandmaster Philippe Villiers de LIsle-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. 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 Orders base in the Grand Harbour by firing their cannons, despite having very little ammunition. Mdinas 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 Gafa. Mdina was extensively restored in the course of the eighteenth century, and Baroque elements were introduced in the largely medieval city. 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.

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 Maltas 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.

In popular culture

Mdina Culture of Mdina
  • Mdina (together with Birgu and Gozo) plays a significant role in The Disorderly Knights, the third book of the acclaimed Lymond Chronicles by Dorothy Dunnett, which is set around the events of the Dragut Raid of 1551 when the Ottomans briefly besieged the city.
  • In White Wolf Publishings World of Darkness, Mdina is the European capital of clan Lasombra.
  • In the 2007 novel Snakehead by Anthony Horowitz, Mdina is the site of an "ambush" where MI6 intends to retrieve Alex Riders father John.
  • In the first season of HBOs Game of Thrones, Mdina was the filming location for the series fictional capital city of Kings Landing. For the second season, Dubrovnik was used instead.
  • References

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