Mdina Things to Do

  • Things to Do
    by mickeyboy07
  • Things to Do
    by mickeyboy07
  • Things to Do
    by mickeyboy07

Best Rated Things to Do in Mdina

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    Palazzo Vilhena ~ Home to Natural History Museum

    by starship Updated Nov 28, 2009

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    Our tour of Mdina literally began at the door of the National Museum of Natural History in the Palazzo Vilhena, former home of the 66th Order of the Knights of St. John Grand Master, Fra Antonio Manoel de Vilhena. The museum is the national repository of biological specimens and represents both life and earth sciences.

    Located on the San Publius Square behind a large, solemn stone courtyard featuring a inlaid marble Maltese Cross, the entrance to Palazzo Vilhena is adorned with sculptures, and a large, intricate medallion. It still looks very much like a palace.

    Not to be confused with a "National" history museum, the "Natural" History Museum is for lovers of nature!! The Natural History Museum contains exhibits and historically important geological collections of "over 10,000 rocks and minerals, over 3,500 birds, birds’ eggs and nests, 200 mammals, over 200 fish species, thousands of local and exotic shells and insects."

    The fossil collection is something you just don't find everywhere--containing a number of large fish, numerous species of sea urchins and other marine fauna found embedded in limestone rocks, this collection is a goldmine for students of biology, anthropology, geology, zoology, palaeontology and other curious scientifically-oriented minds.

    High school, college students and tourists alike will find the museum focuses on faunal aspects of natural sciences, habitats, evolution, and ecosystems a good place for research and the museum also houses a reference library on natural sciences.

    The Palazzo Vilhena provides a grand setting for this museum!

    The very reasonable admission fees are as follows:
    Adults (18 - 59 years): €2.33 (Lm 1)
    Students (12 - 17 years), Senior Citizens (60 years and over), ISIC Card Holders, EURO26 Card Holders, ISE Card Holders and ICOM Card Holders: €1.25 (Lm0.50c)
    Children (6 -11 years): €0.58 (Lm0.25c)

    Entry to Museum at Palazzo Vilhena Detail above Entryway Inlaid Marble Maltese Cross on floor of Courtyard
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    Palazzo Falson Historic House Museum

    by starship Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Another museum which I would have found very interesting but did not have time to see during our brief visit to Mdina was the Palazzo Falson Historic House Museum -- the palazzo and its notable collections.

    Palazzo Falson was the former home of Capt. Olaf Frederick Gollcher, OBE. Of Swedish descent, Gollcher came from a prosperous family. Due to his fortunate circumstances, Capt. Gollcher was a generous man and somewhat of a Renaissance man as well. He was a philantropist, artist and scholar who pursued his passion of collecting art and objet d'arts, furniture, historical artifacts and antiques. His varied collections numbered in the dozens and are too vast to name but a few-- military accoutrements, antique pistols, oriental rugs, watches, manuscripts, etc. Capt. Gollcher took great pleasure in arranging his numerous and myriad collections in his Medieval palace himself, and he certainly had a beautiful building in in which to do it.

    Today, through the auspices of the Capt. O.G. Gollcher, OBE Art and Archeological Foundation and the Maltese Heritage Foundation, the palace and the beloved collections of Capt. Gollcher can be viewed by the public as was his wish upon his death in 1962.

    The Museum chose the palace's rooftop as the setting for its Cafe. Guests can have light snacks, cakes and hot & cold beverages while enjoying the tremendous view of the island and sea from this vantage point.

    Don't miss the Museum's Gift Shop which carries books on art & history, as well as prints, postcards, gifts and souvenirs to remind you of your visit to the Palazzo Falson.

    Museum hours: Tuesday through Sunday: 10am - 5pm (last entry at 4pm); Closed Mondays.
    Guided tours last approximately 1 hour and are given in Maltese and English (other languages by special arrangement.
    Call for group tours, after hours visits or to book special occasions.

    Admission: Adults - 10 Euros including free audio guide (2008 prices); Students, Seniors & ISIC Cardholders - 5 Euros including free audio guide; children 6- 12 with accompanying adult only tour & no audio guide. Children 0 - 5 yrs - NO ENTRY!!

    Photo from Museum website My photo of plaque outside museum
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    The Mdina Gate

    by starship Updated Nov 28, 2009

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    During the time of Arab rule, enhancement of the fortifications of Mdina became a huge undertaking. Higher, solid stone walls were added and a moat was dug for additional fortification --- Mdina eventually resembled other Moorish fortresses of the time such as in North Africa. However, these changes greatly reduced the size of the city and required more formal gates for entry.

    The "Mdina Gate" is probably most widely recognized and most used by tourists to gain entry into "the Silent City." Two stone sculptures on pedestals frame the approach to the stone bridge and ornamental gate. The gate leads directly to the Piazza San Publius in front of the Vilhena Palace, now home of the national Museum of Natural History.

    The city sustained considerable damage during the earthquake of 1693. It was Grand Master Fra Antoine Manoel de Vilhena who restored the Palazzo Vilhena (originally the Magisterial Palace) and the main gate or Mdina Gate around the year 1725 and added Baroque embellisments making it the distinctive entrance to this special city as we see it today.

    View of Mdina Gate Postcard of the bridge and Mdina Gate
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    Take an Inexpensive Self-Guided Audio Tour

    by starship Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    For an inexpensive, but assisted tour of the city of Mdina, consider taking a self-guided audio tour by "Discover Mdina." The audio-tour takes you to 18 of the most important sights in Mdina including Vilhena Palace, Mdina Gate, Palazzo Falson, St. Paul's Square, etc. (Admission fees to museums or special sites are not included.) The beauty of this self-guided tour is in the fact that you tour independently and get historical facts & information about what you're seeing, but can spend as little or as much time as you wish in each location. The audio portion is available in 6 languages: Maltese, English, French, German, Italian and Spanish.

    The audio portion of the tour is narrated by a real character, Baron Phillippe Caxaro d’Antonio Murina della Verga, "who claims to be the oldest remaining member of one of the oldest remaining noble families in Mdina."

    The hand-held audio phone and map can be obtained at the Vilhena Palace, just inside and to the right of the Mdina Gate, available everyday from 9am to 4pm.

    Adults/Children/Students: 8 Euros; Senior citizens: 6 Euros (2008 price).

    Flyer from Discover Mdina Audio-Tour
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    Tales of the Silent City

    by starship Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    I took a photo of this sign because it mentioned "The Silent City." I believe the sign hung above a shop I visited to buy postcards and souvenirs. However, returning from our trip I researched the name and found that "Tales of the Silent City" is really a tourist attraction which highlights, in a series of animated tableaux, major events in the long history of Malta’s former capital up to the WWII. Apparently it is an excellent audio/visual show similar to the "Mdina Experience," and "The Knights of Malta," although, some research I did indicated that "Tales of the Silent City" is quite expensive compared to the other audio/visual museums.

    It is housed on the top floor of the 14th century, Norman architectural gem named the Palazzo Gatto Murina.

    Admission: 23.50 Euros - adults; 16.50 - children. (2008 prices) Best bet is to check prices ahead of time by phone or at the door.

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    St. Peter's Monastery

    by starship Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    The plaque on the wall of the Monastery of St. Peter interested me initially for two reasons: 1) In general, a building housing nuns (in my country) is called a "convent" versus a "monastary" which is for priests, monks or brothers; 2) the plaque says that it is the home of Benedictine nuns and I was educated by Benedictine nuns from grades 1 - 8.

    This building was difficult to obtain information for, but one source states that: "In 1418 the ancient hospital of St. Peter became a Monastery for Benedictine nuns; renovated and enlarged in 1625, it received the relics of St. Felicissima in 1833 from the Catacomb of St. Cyriaca in Rome." The highly adorned main altar alone would be worth seeing, but being in the presence of reliquary is special also. St. Peter's can also boast that Blessed Maria Adeodata Pisani spent most of her life as a cloistered nun in St. Peter's Monastery. Sister Adeodata was Abbess of the Monastery from 1851 - 1853, and died there in 1855. Miracles of cures have been attributed to her, hence her titled of "Blessed." I hope that her path to Sainthood will be accomplished soon.

    Perhaps because information points to a daily mass said there, I can only assume it is open to the public.

    Holy Masses: Daily: 8.00 a.m.

    Doors of St. Peter's Monastery Plaque at Monastery

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    Bastion Square ~ Piazza tas-Sur

    by starship Updated Nov 28, 2009

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    At the farthest point of our brief tour to Mdina, we reached "Bastion Square or Piazza tas-Sur" at the end of Villegaignon Triq. Stop here at this high vantage point atop the fortified ramparts if you would like to view this panorama spreading out before you. This is the area from which the Ottoman Turks lay seige to Mdina. "Straight in front is the hill at Mtarfa where the Ottoman turks encamped during there bitter and fierce but unsuccessful attack on Mdina in 1522." As you stand at that high wall, you may imagine what the scene looked like and at the determination and courage shown by the citizens of Mdina to repel the vast army that lay waiting to assault their city.

    Also from this point on Bastion Square, our guide pointed out the dome of Mosta's church which is considered the 3rd largest dome in the World. The Pantheon in Rome has the world's largest dome.

    NOTE: Be cautious of the uneven pavement and steps at Bastion Square and the ramparts. One elderly member of our group missed a step and fell, causing other members of the group to fall as well.

    Postcard shows Bastion Square & beyond Plaque noting Bastion Square or Piazza tas-sur Above the square is this tower
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    Main Gate

    by HORSCHECK Written Nov 25, 2010

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    The Main Gate is the most important entrance to the fortified town of Mdina. The bridge in front of the Main Gate spans a dry moat which was once digged by Arabs.

    The current structure dates back to 1724 when the gate was reconstructed by Grandmaster Manoel Vilhena after the big earthquake in 1693.

    The coat of arms on the front of the gate is the emblem of Grandmaster Vilhena.

    Directions:
    Mdina's Main Gate can be found at the southern end of the fotified city. It is located more or less opposite to the bus station of Mdina/Rabat.

    Main Gate Main Gate
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    St. Paul's Cathedral ~ Mdina

    by starship Updated Nov 28, 2009

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    The Cathedral of St. Paul in Mdina is said to be built on the spot where the Governor Publius was recorded as having met St. Paul the Apostle subsequent to his shipwreck off the coast of Malta. The present cathedral replaced an earlier Norman Cathedral which was destroyed in the earthquake of 1693.

    The cathedral seen today was designed by Lorenzo Gafa and was built from 1697 - 1702. It's graceful exterior features 2 symmetrical bell towers (see my closeup photo of one bell tower), but more unusually, the facade features 2 clocks just beneath the bell towers!! The clock on the left tells the date and the clock on the right tells time.

    The interior of the cathedral reveals many notable features:
    1)The beautiful & impressive center dome, the interior; its painting date only from the 20th century;
    2)The intricate & varied hues of the marble-inlaid floor composing the flat tombstones which depict coats of arms and inscriptions of the interred -- bishops of Mdina, etc. similar to St. John's Co-Cathedral;
    3)and Mattia Preti's painting of the Conversion of St. Paul located behind the main altar.

    The Cathedral's ceiling paintings and frescoes are beautiful to behold and you should not miss a chance to visit St. Paul's!

    from website of johnaquilina.com View of one bell tower Interior view from website of johnaquilina.com
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    Norman House - Palazzo Falzon

    by sandysmith Updated Feb 15, 2005

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    The best preserved medieval building in Mdina is Palazzo Falzon. The Maltese emulated the architecture of the Scilian nobility when under Spanish rule anfd this style of building is known as Siculo-Norman. It has double arched windows and cornice and string course of triangular corbels. Grandmaster L`isle Adam lived in this place.

    It wa difficult to take a close look here as part of the road was closed off due to renovations of the pavements in Mdina during our visit :-(

    Palazzo Falzon
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    St. Agatha's Chapel

    by HORSCHECK Written Nov 25, 2010

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    The history of the St. Agatha's Chapel dates back to 1418 when it was built, but the chapel was severly damaged in the 1693 earthquake.

    The current structure was errected in 1694 after designs of Lorenzo Gafa, who also designed Mdina's Cathedral. During the Second World War the chapel was used to house refugees.

    Directions:
    The St. Agatha's Chapel can be found near the Main Gate, just at the street corner of the streets Triq Villegaignon and Triq L-Inguanez.

    St. Agatha's Chapel St. Agatha's Chapel St. Agatha's Chapel - Interior
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    St. Paul's Cathedral

    by HORSCHECK Updated Nov 25, 2010

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    The twin-towered St. Paul's Cathedral was constructed at the end of the 17th century and replaced a former Norman cathedral, which was distroyed during the earthquake in 1693.

    The Roman Catholic Cathedral was designed in Baroque style after plans of the Maltese architect Lorenzo Gafa.

    An admission fee has to be paid to visit the interior of the Cathedral.

    Directions:
    The St. Paul's Cathedral dominates the St. Paul's Square (Misrah San Pawl) right in the centre of the fortified town.

    Carmelite Church Carmelite Church Carmelite Church Carmelite Church
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    Greek Gate

    by HORSCHECK Written Nov 25, 2010

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    Beside the Main Gate, the walled city of Mdina has two more gates to enter the city: The Gharreqin Gate and the Greek Gate.

    The latter one dates back to the 16th and 17th century. It was named after a small Greek community which once lived in this area of the city. The Greek Gate was restored in 2004.

    Directions:
    The Greek Gate is situated near the south western edge of the walled city. The gate leads to the St. Nicolas Street (Triq San Nikola).

    Greek Gate
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    Casa Gourgion

    by HORSCHECK Written Nov 25, 2010

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    Mdina offers a wide range of ancient archtitectural styles from the British influenced Victorian Gothic to the Sicily's Norman architecture.

    In my opinion, one of the most beautiful buildings is the Casa Gourgion building, which is considered to be a fine example of the simple Maltese-style architecture. It has been renovated just recently.

    Directions:
    The Casa Gourgion can be found on the northen side of the St. Paul's Square (Misrah San Pawl), right in the centre of Mdina's fortified town.

    Casa Gourgion
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    Vilhena Palace/Natural History Museum

    by sandysmith Updated Feb 16, 2005

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    Vilhena Palace - the former Magistrates Place is where the keys where given to the first Grand Master of the Order of St John, when they came to Malta in 1530. Much to the delight of tthe nobles in Mdina the Knights chose to settle in Valletta rather than their precious Mdina as it was too far from the harboutr for them here. It has a Frenchy style courtyard and the Place is now the Natural History Museum. Yhe basement was formerly used as a prison and is now converted to the Mdina dungeons attraction - there is a lot youcan see in Mdina!
    Seen here is a shot of the doorway though as we decided to see the outdoor sights as usual.

    door to the Palace
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