While Valletta in Malta is a spectacular tourist destination and popular cruise port in the Mediterranean, do not hesitate to venture further inland in your exploration of this tiny island. One town you should not miss is the walled city of Mdina.
Mdina comes from the Arabic word medina meaning walled city – and that is an accurate description. It is probably one of the best examples of a true walled city this writer has seen (and favourite so far) in her Mediterranean adventures, the others being the old walled section of Rhodes, and the Vatican.
Approach to the city is up a hill as would be expected of a great fortress whose defenders must be able to see the approach of any enemies. Outside the main city gate in a small park area stand horse drawn carriages to transport you through its streets. No vehicles, other than those of the residents and emergency vehicles, are allowed inside the walls – and you will soon see why. If you don’t wish to hire a horse cab, then strolling on your own is a perfectly viable option.
Past the city gate (no admission fee), you are confronted by narrow cobble-stoned streets and even narrower laneways and passages. Walls and buildings are almost all the same coloring, a light beige to grey, and in some places could be considered claustrophobic. This is not a modern city, and not vehicle friendly. It is often referred to as the Silent City. One hears the birds, the church bells, the tour guides and their patter, the clip clop of horses’ hooves on stone, and the warning tinkle of bells to alert you to stand aside as a horse carriage is about to round the corner. No typical city sounds here.
It is beautiful, stunningly so, as if you have stepped back in time.