Posts tagged Island

Letters from Malta: Mdina, Silence speaks more than Words…

Dear my travellers, welcome back to my blog! How are you today? I have to admit that this weather is too hard for me, the headache do not allow me to work properly. I am sure, this is because of this change of weather, but what to do, everything I know is that: “Show must go on!”. Today I will keep my promise and I will dedicate today’s post to an unusual town in Malta that delighted me with its architecture. Now, I will officially say – Welcome to Mdina!

This post is also the second post from a special series of posts from Malta in collaboration with the National Tourism Board of Malta. Without their unselfish help, this project wouldn’t be possible. I would like to thank the whole team, the wonderful guides that managed to introduce Malta in a completely different way. This was a wonderful experience, which I will remember for a long time.

Mdina is a fortified town in the northern part of Malta, which served as the capital city on the island from the Ancient Age to the Middle Ages. The city is still surrounded within the walls and in this lovely city lives a little less than 300 inhabitants, but with the neighboring city of Rabat, which was otherwise named after the Arabic word for the suburbs. According to the latest population census, these two cities together have slightly more than 10,000 inhabitants.

It is considered that Mdina has been formed in the 8th century BC (before Christ), and the original name of this city was “Maleth”. The city was founded by the ancient Phoenicians, and later the Romans renamed it to Melita. The ancient city – Melite, was larger than today’s Mdina and was reduced to the present size during the Byzantine or Arab occupation of Malta.

After, the city received its present name, originating from the Arabic word “medina”. The city remained the capital of Malta for almost the entire Middle Ages, until the arrival of the Order of St. John in 1530, when Birgu became the administrative center of the island. Mdina experienced a period of great fall – the dark ages of Mdina, but in the 18th century Mdina managed to regain it’s glory.

Mdina still remained the center of the Maltese nobility and religious institutions till today. The city has never managed to regain its former glory which Mdina had until 1530, which has also led to the nickname “The Silent City” by the inhabitants  and tourists. Mdina is on the “UNESCO World Heritage List”, and is currently one of the main tourist attractions in Malta.

According to law regulations, it is forbidden to use any type of transport vehicles that law does not apply to property owners, and this may be one of the reasons why this unusual small town in Malta got the nickname “Silent City”. I know you always love to find some interesting historical facts so I tried to find out as much as possible about Mdina this time.

Certain historical writings prove that the plateau on which the Mina was built has been inhabited since the prehistory period, and until the Bronze Age it was a “natural shelter” for its position and natural conditions. The Phoenicians colonized Malta in the 8th century before the new era. After the ancient Phoenicians, the Roman Empire took over Malta in 218 year BC and the city was named Melita. At the time of the reign of the Roman Empire, the city was about three times larger than today’s Mdina, including the area of today’s city of Rabat.

Today there are very few remains of Melite, a city from the period of the reign of the great Roman Empire. The most important are the ruins of Domvs Romana, where several well-preserved mosaics, sculptures and other remains were discovered. The remains that are considered to be the foundations of the Temple of Apollo, the remains of the city walls and many more are excavated.

After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, an additional fortification was built in the city, reducing it to the present size. This was done to make the city core easier to defend, and this phenomenon of “downsizing” of cities was common throughout the Mediterranean in the early Middle Ages. Although people believed that the Arabs built these additional walls, some historians believe that they were built during the Byzantine Empire around the 8th century, when the threat by Arabs increased.

In the year 870, the Byzantine Melite, ruled by Governor Amros, was surrounded by Aghlabid headed by Halaf al-Hadim. He was killed in the battles, and Sawada Ibn Muhammad was sent from Sicily to continue the siege after his death. The real duration of the siege is unknown, but it probably lasted for several weeks or a few months. After Melite fell down from the occupiers, the inhabitants were massacred, the city destroyed, the churches looted. Marble from the church in Melite was used to build a castle in the city of Sousse (Tunisia).

When the Order of Saint John took over Malta in 1530, the nobles handed over the keys of the city to Grand Master Philippe Villiers de L’Isle-Adam, but the members of the Order were placed in Birgu and Mdina lost the status of main capital city. During the 1540s, the walls began to be upgraded, and in 1551 the city successfully sustained the Ottomans attack.

During the Great Siege of Malta in 1565, Mdina was the base of the cavalry of the Order, which was successfully examined by Ottoman conquerors. The Ottomans attempted to carry out the siege of Mdina in September in order to stay there during winter time, but they gave up their plans when members of the Order of St. John attacked the cannons, claiming them to believe that they possessed heavy weapons. After the siege, Maltese military engineer Girolamo Cassar created a plan by which the size of the Mdine would be reduced by half and converted to the fortress, but this was never carried out due to protests by city nobles.

In June 1798, Mdina was occupied by the French forces without much resistance during the French occupation in Malta. The French garrison remained in the city, but on 2nd of September that year a large Maltese Rebellion broke out. The next day, rebels entered the city through the harbor and massacred a garrison of 65 people.

These events marked the beginning of a two-year uprising and a blockade, and the Maltese people formed the National Assembly. The rebels were successful, and in 1800, the French surrendered and Malta became a British protectorate. There is also an interesting fact that between 1883 and 1931, Mdina was connected with Valletta, it was a special railroad and during that period regular railway traffic was established.

Today Mdina is one of the main tourist attractions of Malta, which yearly hosts about a million tourists. You can see that the city has an interesting mixture of the Norman and Baroque architecture, including several palaces, most of which are in private possession. In the period from 2008 to 2016, a great restoration of the city walls was carried out.

As I wrote in the previous post: “Mdina is on the list of the most expensive cities in Europe at the price of a square of real estate, so if you want to have the “smallest palace” in this city you must be ready to pay at least 5 million euros, while for the magnificent palaces you have to pay more than 50 million euros. I promise you in the next post I will dedicate to this unusual town where you will be able to enjoy the architecture of this most expensive “village” in the world.” If you didn’t have time to read my previous post about this incredible island, take your time now and enjoy! I hope you will like it – link.

My dear travellers, once again we have come to the end of our travel adventure. Time just flies so fast when you are having a good time! At the end of this post, I would like to thank my friends from Malta Tourism Authority for this incredible adventure and for their huge efforts to make my stay unforgettable and I felt like at home.

How do you like this post about Mdina? Have you ever visited this lovely city? Have you maybe had a chance to visit Malta before? I would like to share with me your experience!

In a couple of days we will continue our adventure in Malta, you will find out more about this island and capital city Valletta! I can’t wait to share all those beautiful photos with you.

If you have a question, comment, suggestion or message for me, you can write me down in the comments. Of course, as always you can contact me via mail or social media, which you can find on the CONTACT page.

Best,

Mr.M

Main Square city of Rabat in Malta
This post was sponsored by Malta Tourism Authority. I also thank my friends from Sony who made it possible to enjoy in these beautiful photos made with the Sony Alpha 7r Mark II camera with Sony FE 24-70 mm lense from special G Master series of professional lenses.
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Letters from Malta: The Mediterranean Love at First Sight…

My dear travellers, how are you today? Finally, these sun rays today proved that for us in Serbia finally begins June and summer is officially ON. I honestly do not remember when was the bad weather condition of the previous years, but this year is obviously full of surprises.

It’s still strange to me, and I can not get used to these changes in time, so I’m sorry that my adventure in Malta did not last for at least few more days… Okay, maybe this new series of posts from Malta will help me just to remember how nice it was there. I’m writing to you today my first post about Malta. This series of posts about Malta will be a little longer because there will be a little more travel posts, and of course, as you have been used to, and special fashion posts where I will tell you about my adventures. So let’s start!

The Republic of Malta is a small, but densely populated island country made up of an archipelago in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea in the south of Europe. Malta, otherwise geophysically, forms part of North Africa, but this country is geopolitically located in southern Europe. It has an important geographical position on an important road to the central part of Sicily and Italy as well. Malta is a Mediterranean pearl located somewhere between Europe and Africa.

The climate is Mediterranean with extremely mild winters, which is one of the main benefits for a pleasant holiday for most of the year. The culture of Malta is a blend of many cultures that have been in contact with the island for centuries, which makes my trip an interesting adventure.

This spring I received a kind invitation from the National Tourism Organization of the Republic of Malta to come to Malta and visit their biggest fashion event – Malta Fashion Week. Since I have been planning to come to Malta for a long time because I heard it was a land of knights and lost dreams, I thought this was an ideal opportunity to explore Malta and finally to check out all those legends about knights.

At the end of May this year, little Marko and his photographer headed to this Mediterranean paradise. I have to admit after the cold of Russia, Malta was the perfect next fashion station for Mr.M, but this adventure is a little bit warmer, because of the Mediterranean climate which I really love.

In collaboration with the Tourist Organization of Malta, I visited the capital of Malta – Valletta, Sliema, Birgu, Mdina, Marsaxlokk and, of course, the sister’s island of Malta – Gozo. This incredible adventure lasted for 6 days and I think that for 7 to 10 days it is quite enough to explore this island without any rush.

According to the plan and program, the first stop was: Sliema. The city is located on the northern coast of the island and is not to far from the capital city, about ten kilometers away. Otherwise, Sliema is known as a major residential and commercial area and a centre for shopping, bars, dining, and café life. There is the largest shopping mall and retail complex – The Point Shopping Center. Since I was able to visit a couple of stores, I can tell you that as far as prices are concerned, almost as much as in other parts of Europe, such as Italy and France. It was time to find my car and to go to my next destination – Birgu.

P.S. For all lovers of Zara, the prices of products of this famous street style brand are the lowest in Greece and Malta, so now you will know where you can buy some of the fashion pieces of your favorite brand. I believe that some of you will say after this: “Thank you Marko!”, I will only say, “No worries!”.

Birgu or Vittoriosa is one of the official 11 cities in Malta. Have you heard the famous legend of the “Three Cities” in Malta? The three cities represent a collective description of the three fortified cities of Vittoriosa, Senglea and Cospicua in Malta. The oldest of these cities is Birgu, which exists since the Middle Ages. The other two cities, Senglea and Cospicua, were founded by the Knights of St. John in the 16th and 17th centuries.

Birgu is a very old locality with its origins reaching back to medieval times. Prior to the establishment of Vallettaas capital and main city of Malta, military powers that wanted to rule the Maltese islands would need to obtain control of Birgu due to its significant position in the Grand Harbour. In fact, it served as the base of the Order of Saint John and de facto capital city of Malta from 1530 to 1571.

When the Order of Saint John first settled in Malta in 1530, all of their administrative divisions were based in Birgu, so the Church of Saint Lawrence was used as the Order’s first conventual church in Malta. It served this purpose for 41 years from 1530 to 1571 until the Knights were transferred to the new capital city Valletta. The foundation stone of the present church was laid in May 1681 by Bishop Molina, it was completed in 1696. The church was inaugurated by Bishop Davide Cocco Palmieri on the feast of St Lawrence, August 10, 1697.

In January, 1941 the church was bombed. Both the sacristy and the chapter hall were destroyed. They were both re-built in 1949. In March of the same year the chapel of the blessed Sacrament was destroyed and in April, 1942 the dome of the church was destroyed. The chapel was re-built in 1951 and the dome was re-built in 1952.

The architecture of this church is incredible and I must be honest that I did not expect something like this in Malta. After this visit to this lovely island country, the picture of Malta in my head is totally different. Of course, due to the legend of the “Table of Knights” and the Knight orders of Malta I imagined completely different. I’m glad that I had the opportunity to visit this country.

Birgu is still rich “in heart” just because of beautiful facades, whose architecture shows historical heritage, despite the damage that it suffered during the bombing during World War II. His other name Vittoriosa was awarded as a result of its winning position in the Great Siege of 1565.

After this wonderful walk around the streets of Birgu, my photographer and I were headed to another important city in Malta – Mdina.

Mdina is a fortified city in the northern part of the island, which served as the island’s capital from antiquity to the medieval period. The city is still confined within its walls, and has a population of just under 300, but it is contiguous with the town of Rabat, which takes its name from the Arabic word for suburb, and has a population of over 10,000 people.

Its mixture of medieval and baroque architecture, the fortifications walls and its position make it one of the most beautiful cities on the Malta.

Today, Mdina is one of Malta’s major tourist attractions, hosting about a million tourists a year. There are no cars (other than a limited number of residents, emergency vehicles, wedding cars and horses) are allowed in Mdina, partly why it has earned the nickname “the Silent City”. The city displays an unusual mix of Norman and Baroque architecture, including several palaces, most of which serve as private homes.

Mdina is on the list of the most expensive cities in Europe at the price of a square of real estate, so if you want to have the “smallest palace” in this city you must be ready to pay at least 5 million euros, while for the magnificent palaces you have to pay more than 50 million euros. I promise you in the next post I will dedicate to this unusual town where you will be able to enjoy the architecture of this most expensive “village” in the world.

Bye, bye my dear Mdina, for now see you again next week! Now I just want to warn you to prepare on time for the most colourful village on the Malta. Welcome to Marsaxlokk! Marsaxlokk is a small, traditional fishing village in the southeastern part of the island. It has a harbor and tourist attraction famous for its incredible landscapes, fishing and history. In March 2014, the village had around 4,000 inhabitants. The village is also known for the famous Marsaxlokk market, which is mainly a large fish market, which is held almost every Sunday along the whole coast.

This colourful and lovely village is still inhabited and known since antiquity. Marsaxlokk had an important role even with the ancient Phoenicians and Cartagines making business with local harbour, and also has the remains of the harbour from the Roman era. It is known for its traditional and colorful ships “Luzzus”. The village is also popular among locals and tourists for walking around the coast and the harbor, restaurants, as well as because of its large areas which are reserved for swimming.

The Blue Grotto represents a number of sea caverns on the south east coast of Malta, a short distance off the fishermen’s harbour of Wied iz-Zurrieq. The location of the caves, combined with the rays of sunlight, lead to the seawater mirroring and showing numerous shades of blue on the cave walls and ceilings. Several caverns also mirror the brilliant colours of the underwater flora and fauna, whilst other caverns show a deep dark shade of blue.

Underwater, different colors of red, green, orange and yellow give an impressive and most beautiful photo to its visitors. The Blue Grotto is a popular destination for tourists with boat trips visiting the caves running almost all days of the year, depends on weather condition. Scuba diving and snorkeling on the coastline walls, together with rock climbing, are the most popular activities practiced in this area.

My dear travellers, once again we have come to the end of our travel adventure. Time just flies so fast when you are having a good time! At the end of this post, I would like to thank my friends from Malta Tourism Authority for this incredible adventure and for their huge efforts to make my stay unforgettable and I felt like at home.

How do you like this post about Malta? Have you ever visited this island? Did you enjoy in the story of the interesting Mediterranean pearl of Europe? I would like to share with me your opinion!

In a couple of days we will continue our adventure in Malta, you will find out more about this island and amazing city Mdina! I can’t wait to share all those beautiful photos with you.

If you have a question, comment, suggestion or message for me, you can write me down in the comments. Of course, as always you can contact me via mail or social media, which you can find on the CONTACT page.

Best,

Mr.M

This post was sponsored by Malta Tourism Authority. I also thank my friends from Sony who made it possible to enjoy in these beautiful photos made with the Sony Alpha 7r Mark II camera with Sony FE 24-70 mm lense from special G Master series of professional lenses…
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