Rabat Things to Do

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

Most Recent Things to Do in Rabat

  • planxty's Profile Photo

    Yet more catcombs.

    by planxty Updated May 5, 2013

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    Catacombs, Rabat, Malta.
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    I seem to have spent an awful lot of my time in Malta underground one way and another. Catacombs abound and this group is underneath the Wignacourt Museum (see seperate tip). The catacombs here are connected with, although not physically to, the St. Paul's catacombs a littl furher up Baijada Triq Sant' Agatha (St. Agatha Street). These catacombs, dating from Roman times or before are more associated with the grotto of St. Paul (see further seperate tip).

    Apart from their original function they served in the Second World War as air raid shelters from the Axis aerial bombardmant during the failed attempt to capture the island and therefore control the Mediterranean. Walking through these slighty damp, slightly musty corridors and looking at the tiny individual catacombs with their associations with death, it must not have been an overly pleasant experience. The catcombs here are not really the main attraction but are worth a look as you go to the Grotto of St. Paul. If you want better catacombs, go to the other ones up the road.

    I should now attempt to clear up the rather confusing issue of tickets. I mentioned in other tips that you can buy a combined ticket for the Domus Romana, St. Pauls catacombs and the National Museum of Natural History. These are not the catacombs referred to. The other sites are run by Heritage Malta but this complex is privately run and you have to buy a seperate ticket. The prices are not excessive and the whole place is well worth seeing. Here are the prices and opening hours.

    Adult Eur5.00
    Seniors 61+ Eur3.50
    Students 12+ Eur3.50
    Children 7-11 Eur2.50
    6 and under Free

    It is open Monday to Sunday: 0930hrs to 1700hrs.

    Due to the very nature of the place it is regrettably not suitable for travellers with mobility impairment.

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  • planxty's Profile Photo

    A fascinating hole in the ground.

    by planxty Written Mar 30, 2013

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    St. Paul's catacombs, Rabat, Malta.
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    On my recent trip to Malta, I seemed to spend an inordinate amount of time underground. I don't know why but there seem to be a lot of caves and undergraound places on the island, some natural, some manmade and some a mixture of the two. This is one such place and quite fascinating it is too if somewhat eerie. It is the St. Paul's catacombs.

    Firstly, let me clear up several potential sources of confusion. Firstly, there are two sets of catacombs bearing the name of the Saint who lived and preached in this place. One set of catacombs is in the complex containing the Wignacourt Museum and the St. Paul grotto which are dealt with in a seperate tip on this page. This is not it.

    Secondly, if you are trying to find this on Google maps, it is shown in the wrong place. The place indicated as Catacombs of St. Paul and St. Agatha is to the West of Baijada Triq Sant' Anna and there are certainly overgrown catacombs there but situated in a locked enclosure. The place you are looking for is on the opposite side of the road and is well marked.

    Thirdly, to the matter of tickets, which can be a little confusing in Rabat and adjoining Medina. This place is run by Heritage Malta and you can buy a combined ticket for it, the Domus Romana and the National Museum of Natural History. This is my suggestion as it attracts a discount and you can do all three in easily one day.

    So, having negotiated the geography and ticketing, what can you expect to find? Well, a quite incredible underground system with a fascinating history. You are guided through it to various numbered points although I should point out that the commentary is perhaps not as specific regarding directions as it might be and I had to retrace myself once or twice. This is not a huge problem as you cannot really get lost, much as it seems like it sometimes, and the exit is clearly signposted in the large main catacomb.

    Roman law and custom forbade the burying of bodies within the precincts of a city, in this case Melita (modern day Mdina) and so catacombs were constructed just outside the walls. The system here was in use up until the 4th century AD.

    After being audio-guided through several smaller hypogea you are led to the main complex which is certainly the most impressive. You first enter a large chamber which was leter used as a Church by the early Christians on the island. After spending a while admiring this, you begin the tours and it is very interesting. You are taken further and further away from the entrance into increasingly narrow and lower corridors with niches cut everywhere to house the dead. It is a slightly eerie feeling thinking of this place full of dead bodies. In technical terms, it is quite a feat of mining and the guide explains that there were a group of specialists to do this who were quite respected due to their skills.

    After falling into disuse and eventual disrepair following the Ottoman Turk invasion occupation of the island, the catacombs were eeventually explored and excavated in the late 19th century. They found another use during World War 2, serving as a shelter from the aerial bombardment of the Axis Powers. It is well worth a visit.

    A couple of practical points now. Wear sensible footwear as it is uneven underfoot and, by it's very nature it is not accesible for those with mobility problems. Also, and I anot being disrespectful here but if you are of, shall we say, ample girth, you may not be able to access the entire site. I am tall and thin and found myself stooped a lot of the time and rubbing against both side walls of some of the passageways.

    Here are the logistics, taken from the official website.

    Opening Hours

    Monday to Sunday: 9.00-17.00
    Last admission: 16.30
    Closed: 24, 25 & 31 December, 1 January, Good Friday

    Tickets

    Adults (18 - 59 years): €5.00
    Youth (12 - 17 years), Senior Citizens (60 years and over), ISIC Card Holders, EURO26 Card Holders, ISE Card Holders, ICOM Card Holders, University of Malta and MCAST Students: €3.50
    Children (6 -11 years): €2.50
    Infants (1 -5 years): Free

    Multi Site Tickets

    Rabat - Mdina Multi Site Ticket
    (Domus Romana, St Paul's Catacombs & National Museum of Natural History)

    Adults (18 - 59 years) €12.00
    Students (12 - 17 years), Senior Citizens (60 years and over), ISIC Card Holders, EURO26 Card Holders, ICOM Card Holders €9.00
    Children (6 -11 years): €6.00
    Infants (1 -5 years): Free

    Photography without flash is allowed and so I apologise for the quality of some of the images as I was only using a compact camera.

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  • planxty's Profile Photo

    A fascinating Museum.

    by planxty Written Mar 30, 2013

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    Wignacourt Museum, Rabat, Malta.
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    The Museum I am referring to is the Wignacourt Museum in Rabat situated in the building formerly the residence of the Chaplains to the Order of the Knights of St. John of Malta and named for Grand Master Aloph de Wignacourt (Grand Master 1601-1622). The recently refurbished building is hugely impressive and filled with many artefacts relating to the Order. The Knights were a chivalric Order of Crusader Knights who ruled the island for several centuries and the hyperlink above to their website gives a brief history if you are not aware of it.

    The Museum is filled with works of art, specifically a collection of the works of Mattia Preti who is perhaps the most famous of all Maltese artists. There are fine collections of silver, furniture, ecclesiatical items, a sedan chair and even a 1937 Austin motor car used by archbishops. Incidentally, if you want to find the car, it is hiding in a storeroom / garage across the back yard, it is easy to miss.

    As you walk towards the yard, take a look in the rooms on your left which are oben although you cannot enter. They appear to be some sort of storerooms for the exhibits not on display. The image gices some idea. I thought Museums were obsessed with cataloguing and filing everything correctly but these place just look like the back storeroom of a second hand shop. I found them enchanting.

    As there is only room for five images on this page, I shall create a travelogue on this page to showcase the other images I took.

    To the logistics now.

    I should now attempt to clear up the rather confusing issue of tickets. I mentioned in other tips that you can buy a combined ticket for the Domus Romana, St. Pauls catacombs and the National Museum of Natural History. Tthe catacombs which form part of this complex are not those referred to on that ticket. The other mentioned sites are run by Heritage Malta but this complex (grotto, catacombs and this Museum) is privately run and you have to buy a seperate ticket. The prices are not excessive and the whole place is well worth seeing. Here are the prices and opening hours.

    Adult Eur5.00
    Seniors 61+ Eur3.50
    Students 12+ Eur3.50
    Children 7-11 Eur2.50
    6 and under Free

    It is open Monday to Sunday: 0930hrs to 1700hrs.

    Photography without flash is permitted thorughout.

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  • planxty's Profile Photo

    A very holy place.

    by planxty Written Mar 30, 2013

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    Grotto of St. Paul, Rabat, Malta.
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    I cannot imagine there are two many underground caves where not one but two Popes have prayed but the grotto of St. Paul in Rabat is one such.

    St. Paul is hugely important in the very Catholic country of Malta, having been shipwrecked here in AD60 and credited with bringing Christianity to the island althougharchaeological evidence from nearby catacombs suggests that Christianity here predatred his arrival. It is, however, a widely held view here. Paul based himself in what is modern day Rabat, then the Roman town of Melita and founded a Church here. Because of continuing Roman persecution of Christians, they were forced to meet in secret and the Roman catacombs were an ideal place to do this. The grotto you see today is believed to be where Paul held his meetings and is much revered by the Maltese.

    I apologse now for the quality of the images. I did not see any specific prohibition anywhere but I dislike using flash photography in holy places and this place is darkish although there is enough light that it is not dangerous to walk about. Thw two Popes I mentioned earlier were Pope John Paul II in 1990 and Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI in 2010.

    The groto itself is fairly simple, quite small and not intrisically terribly interesting but the importance of it in religious and historical terms makes it a "must see" in Rabat, indeed in Malta.

    To the logistics now.

    I should now attempt to clear up the rather confusing issue of tickets. I mentioned in other tips that you can buy a combined ticket for the Domus Romana, St. Pauls catacombs and the National Museum of Natural History. Tthe catacombs adjacent to the grotto through which you enter are not those referred to on that ticket. The other mentioned sites are run by Heritage Malta but this complex (grotto, catacombs and excellent Wignacourt Museum) is privately run and you have to buy a seperate ticket. The prices are not excessive and the whole place is well worth seeing. Here are the prices and opening hours.

    Adult Eur5.00
    Seniors 61+ Eur3.50
    Students 12+ Eur3.50
    Children 7-11 Eur2.50
    6 and under Free

    It is open Monday to Sunday: 0930hrs to 1700hrs.

    Due to the very nature of the place it is regrettably not suitable for travellers with mobility impairment.

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  • planxty's Profile Photo

    A fine Roman villa.

    by planxty Written Mar 27, 2013

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    Mosaic, Domus Romana, Rabat, Malta.
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    Situated as it is at the "crossroads" of the Mediterranean, Malta has been subject to invasion and occupation by all sorts of people and this includes the Roamns which is hardly surprising given it's proximity to that city. In truth, I didn't find that much evidence of the Romans on the island but there is one excellent site in Rabat, administered by Heritage Malta. Known simply as Domus Romana (Roman House) it stands not far from the bastion walls of Mdina and boasts some fine exhibits including an excellent mosaic floor. In those days the settlement was called Melita and was an important centre.

    This site came to light accidentally in 1881 whilst workmen were planting trees and was seen as so important that a rudimentary Museum was constructed. It was further excavated in the 1920's by Sir Themistocles Zammit, Malta’s first Director of Museums when further outbuildings for the main Domus were discovered and these are what you see outside the Museum building now.

    I shall not describe in detail every exhibit in detail and allow some images to serve in that respect but it was interesting to see Islamic graves (complete with skeletons) and gravestones dating from the 11th century. It just shows the very varied history of this fascinating island. I have mentioned the mosaic floor and it really is very well preserved, centred on the two drinking doves of Soros, a common Roman motif. There is some Roman statuary as well as more prosaic domestic items which I always find interesting.

    As to the logistics of building, the Domus is open Monday to Sunday: 9.00-17.00 with
    last admission at 16.30 and it is closed on 24, 25 & 31 December, 1 January and Good Friday. I am glad to report that it is fully wheelchair accessible including a wheelchair lift to the lower level.

    I would like to tell you about pricing but it really is a confusing issue. I do recommend buying a triple ticket for this site, the St. Paul's catacombs and the National Museum of Natrual History as this attracts a discount and you can easily visit all three in one day. This normally costs €12 adult but for some reason was reduced to €8 when I visited, possibly because it was low season. As spoken of in another tip, if you intend to do a lot of sightseeing I would recommend the Heritage Malta pass at €35 which will save you a lot of money and will gain you admittance here.

    Well worth a visit.

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  • mickeyboy07's Profile Photo

    quaint ant quiet alleys

    by mickeyboy07 Written Mar 23, 2013

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    Just a few minutes walk from the main rd in Rabat and all falls silent as you enter the small streets and alleyways of the centre of town.Its almost like being back in 'Mdina' as silence decends upon you.Lots of the streets are decorated with crowns and religious objects that I think would look great if walking here at night.There's the odd shop and local bar but apart from that its great to witness the tranquillity of these little streets.

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  • mickeyboy07's Profile Photo

    Roman Villa

    by mickeyboy07 Written Mar 23, 2013

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    One of the attractions in Malta from the Roman era is this Roman Villa which was found in 1881.
    It is evident from the things found in the villa that the Romans enjoyed a good life here in Malta.The villa has a Doric Peristyle around a central court.The court is paved with exquisite Roman mosaics,in Roman times the villa was decorated in marble statues,some which can still be seen at the museum.The mosaics you will see at this villa are amoung some of the oldest ever found in the westrern Mediterranean along with Sicily and Pompeii.The museum was built in 1924 around the remains of the villa.
    Open daily:09.00-17.00,closed on public holidays
    Price:€6

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  • mickeyboy07's Profile Photo

    Howard Gardens

    by mickeyboy07 Written Mar 23, 2013

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    Sanwiched between the town and the walls of 'Mdina' these gardens were open to the public in 1924.They offer people the chance to relax after exploring the city,they were named after 'Joseph Howard MBE',the first Prime Minister of Malta under Colonial Government.They are one of the largest public gardens area's in Malta,incorporating an orange garden,football pitch and tennis court.They are located near the 'Roman Villa' and form a natural boundry between Rabat and Mdina.The gardens offer great views of Midna'a defensive ditch and defensive walls,plus there are a number of monuments and statues dotted around including a WWII memorial.

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  • balhannah's Profile Photo

    THREE GATES FROM RABAT INTO MDINA

    by balhannah Written Sep 4, 2012
    Main gate into Mdina from Rabat

    The city of Mdina can be accessed through three gates, the Gharreqin Gate, Greek Gate and Main Gate. The main gate is the nicest and probably the most used gate. The Greek Gate is mainly used by cars, and the Gharreqin Gate is just a side entrance. Only the inhabitants of the city and deliveries are allowed to enter the city by car.

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    GHAR BARKA - RABAT

    by balhannah Written Sep 3, 2012
    Ghar Barka viewpoint
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    Ghar Barka is a suburb of Rabat. We came here on the Tourist Train.
    The Train stopped at a fantastic lookout, where we could see for miles and miles. We had great views of Rabat, of the highway, and of the farms in the area. We could even see the Ocean in the distance!

    We stopped here so everybody had a chance to take photo's.

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    ST. PAULS CHURCH

    by balhannah Written Sep 3, 2012
    St. Pauls Church
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    St. Pauls Church from the 17th century, was the first famous Church we came across on our "train' journey.

    St. Paul's Church in Rabat, stands above a grotto where St. Paul is said to have taken refuge after becoming shipwrecked on Malta for 3 months. During his time here, Paul was bitten by a snake and remained unharmed, prompting the people here to regard him as a god. He later healed the father of the governor of the island, Publius, and many other people

    The statue of St Paul was donated by Grand Master Pinto in 1748 the silver galley hanging from the ceiling was given by the Knights of St John in 1960 to mark the 1,900-year anniversary of St Paul's shipwreck.
    Pope John Paul prayed in the grotto during his visit in May 1990.

    The Sanctuary of St Publius was added on to the Church of St. Paul in 1617. The Spaniard Publius came to Malta in about 1600 to become a knight, but upon visiting the grotto he decided to become a hermit instead.

    THE CHURCH IS OPEN DAILY FROM....
    9:30-1:30pm & 2:30-5pm

    FREE ENTRY

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  • balhannah's Profile Photo

    RABAT TOURIST TRAIN

    by balhannah Updated Sep 3, 2012
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    As we alighted from the Hop On Off Bus, we were given pamphlets on the Melita tourist train.
    On having a look at the brochure, we decided to take the ride, much easier than walking. As it turned out, it was an excellent decision, as the Train took us not only through and around the village of Rabat, but in the countryside too, somewhere we wouldn't have been able to go by ourselves.

    THE TOUR IS 8KMS AND TAKES APPROX 30 MINUTES TO COVER.

    The Train took us past Mdina Main Gate, the Old Casino Notabile, and then into the heart of Rabat, passing by all the famous sites, and then onto the suburb of Ghar Barka, with picturesque views of Rabat and the surrounding countryside.
    We then went to the neighbouring town of Mtarfa, viewing other interesting buildings such as the Ex Royal Navy Hospital and the Clock Tower. When at the highest point on the island we had marvellous views of Mosta and most of Malta, and Mdina and the surrounding bastions, great views! The train passes over the same bridge transited by the Old Malta Railway Trains and close to the Old Railway Station, before heading to Mdina’s Greek Gate Tunnel and back to the terminus.

    We thoroughly enjoy the trip and would recommend it!

    OPERATES..........
    10:00am, 11:00am, 12:00pm, 1:00pm, 2:00pm, 3:00pm, 4:00pm

    PRICE....Adults [16years +] € 4.50 Senior Citizens (61+) € 3.50
    Children ...€ 3.00 ...Infants under 4years....€ 1.50

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  • Turska's Profile Photo

    St. Agathas catacombs and the crypt

    by Turska Written Jun 19, 2011

    It was allmost opposite of St. Paul´s catacombs. It is much smaller, and you can´t walk there without guided tour. Luckily the guide was vey good and taled only what needed (we don´t care about those tours witch have too much stories, we rather hear the facts only). It came out that the guide was learning archeology, so that´s why he did it so well I think.
    There was about 20min to do the tour. You should not miss the group, because they will shut down the lights after 20min. You wouldn´t like to stay here at the dark, it was even more a labyrinth than st.Pauls.
    At the begining there is the crypt, witch makes this different from St. Pauls. It has well saved paintings at the walls.
    It´s not allowed to take photos inside here, but you can buy photos of the place. But I won´t put those photos in here, you can see the photos from internet. The photo is from the way to the catacombs, where you see the signs.
    The tours are often, about every 30min. When you wait for the tour, go up to the museum. It looked like a small stone-collection first, but after seeing the stones, you can walk upstairs (where I thought would only be a small room of more stones) and see bigger museum. It´s intresting enough to see at same money. There was also third room with church museum.
    I guess this place could be pre booked in summer. No need for that in winter.
    I think that St. Pauls catacombs were also very interesting, close to this place. Even if the ticket lady said it would me "nothing" after this.

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    St. Pauls catacombs

    by Turska Updated Jun 19, 2011
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    I was affraid I would feel claustrofobic, but it wasn´t so small, and when you found it interesting, you forgot you were under ground ;) Maybe it´s not suitable for everyone, but I had no problems in it.
    We didn´t find the place first, but when we got to "mains squere" (we had no map) there were finally signs to show us.
    I red somewhere that we should book ahead, but at least at march we had no problem getting in. You didn´t also need a guide, you can walk there by yourself.
    Flashlights aren´´t allowed, but with digital camera and big ISO- number (I don´t know how to say this correct in English) you could get just fine photos.
    You must have heard these were the tombs. I find it hard to imagine they could stay here long times "visiting" the dead ones, and even eat therem next to them..
    We heard some locals say, that there´s nothing to see in here, only at St. Agathas catacombs. We don´t agree. In some way this was even more interesting. One ereason was the size of it, and another was the freedom to walk around by yourself.

    Opening Hours:
    Monday to Sunday: 9.00-17.00
    Last admission: 16.30
    Closed: 24, 25 & 31 December, 1 January, Good Friday

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  • DSwede's Profile Photo

    St. Paul's Grotto & the first church of Malta

    by DSwede Updated May 6, 2011
    The first church of Malta
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    Once the political center of Malta, Mdina and Rabat were obvious choices in the old days of where people would go for some assistance.

    The story goes that in 60AD, St. Paul was shipwrecked and in need of just such assistance. However being at the time a non-Christian nation, he had to tread lightly.

    He sought refuge in the Grotto, which had for centuries been used as a prison during the Roman times. The chain hooks can still be seen in the ceiling.

    After gaining favor of many locals, the Grotto became site of the first Christian services on the island, the mayor of the day was the first baptized on the island too. Once Malta warmed to Christianity, eventually the church was built directly above the Grotto.

    If you get this far, you may very well be standing in the footsteps of St Paul and two Popes who have prayed in the very spot.

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