The ancient walled city of Mdina is truly one of the jewels in Malta's crown and a must-see for visitors to the island hoping to fully understand Malta's rich history. In fact, Mdina is believed to be the place where St. John the Apostle settled in Malta after having been shipwrecked in 60AD.
It is commonly accepted that Mdina has been inhabited in one form or another since 4000BC over 6,000 years ago! It was a favoured location for the Phoenicians who fortified the city in around 700BC although much of what is now visible in the city comes from the later period of Arab occupation between the 9th and 11th centuries AD.
The city itself is a living history. With its magnificent and imposing Arab architecture, walking through the city gates makes you feel like you are stepping back in time. It is a quiet city by day (largely due to the fact that cars are not allowed), perfect for strolling around, enjoying the atmosphere, taking some great photos and enjoying the stunning views across the rest of the island (Mdina is on a hill and on a clear day much of Malta is visible from the city's ramparts). But Mdina is no museum and nowadays the vast majority of the city's buildings are very expensive and highly sought after private residences.
At night the city is lit up and has a completely different feel from the daytime experience. It is still very much a "silent city" after dark but well worth a visit for the atmospheric lighting and photo opportunities.