Rabat, Mosta, Mdina: historical jewels in the heart of the island

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Rabat, Mosta, Mdina: historical jewels in the heart of the island

  • Rabat and Mdina are actually sister cities that shared a city wall until the year 870. The alliance between the cities was ruptured under Arab rule, when Mdina became the seat of the nobility and the common people settled in Rabat. Today, about 13,000 people live here. Mdina is known to this day as the "silent city," since it is closed to vehicle traffic except for deliveries. Its narrow streets and historic palazzos sweep visitors away to centuries past, and the lovely view from the walls of the fortress encompasses the whole of the island, making Mdina definitely worth a visit. The small town of Mosta is located in the heart of Malta. After Valletta, it is the second most important hub of the island's bus network, and is conveniently reached from Valletta, Bugibba, Mellieha, and Cirkewwa. A visit is worthwhile, as the Rotunda of St. Marija Assunta is a worthy tourist attraction, plus Mosta is a good area for shopping. The Catacombs of St. Paul The Catacombs of St. Paul, in Rabat, are a typical complex of interconnected underground Roman cemeteries. Used into the fourth century A.D., they are located on the outskirts of the ancient Roman capital city of Mdina, since Roman law prohibited the burial of the dead within city limits. The Catacombs of St. Paul embody the earliest and most important archaeological record of Christianity on Malta. They are named after the nearby Grotto of St. Paul. The architecture of the Catacombs of St. Paul is the result of a native development that was exposed to hardly any outside or foreign influence. An imposing hall functions as the center, from which a dizzying array of narrow passageways and corridors lead to the grave galleries. The few murals that remain are of major interest since they represent the only surviving examples of the painting of the late Roman period and early Middle Ages on the islands. The catacombs are open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. St. Paul's Catacombs St. Agatha St. Rabat RBT 07 Tel.: +356 21454562 Carmelite Church and Priory The newest attractions in Mdina include the Carmelite Church and Priory, which were only recently opened to the public. The highlight of this site is without a doubt the refectory, where the monks gathered for their communal meals. It is a rare example of the Baroque notion of the whole, in which painting, sculpture, and architecture combined into a single harmonious unit. The Carmelite Church building is the work of French architect Mederico Blondel; begun in 1660, it was completed in 1675. Above the main altar is an impressive painting of the Annunciation by Stefano Erardi (1677). The church is also home to works by the well-known Maltese artist Giuseppe Cali. The Carmelite Church and Priory are open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tel.: +356 27020404 e-mail : info@carmelitepriorymuseum.com The Rotunda of Mosta The Church of the Assumption of Our Lady (Rotunda of St Marija Assunta) is the parish church of Mosta. It was built in 1860, on the site of a different church built in 1614. The interior of the church is highly impressive, with its round shape and clean design. The breathtaking dome, 60 meters (195 ft.) tall and 52 meters (170 ft.) in diameter, is the fourth largest of its kind in the world. The church can accommodate 12,000 worshipers. It is famed for an event that occurred during World War II - a bomb that pierced the dome landed on the floor of the church and skidded through the hall without exploding! The church was full of people when the bomb hit, but no one was hurt. A replica of the bomb is now on display in the church's vestry.
Mdina View