Nowhere will allow you to take a step back in time quite like Mdina. Founded in the 8th century BC by Phoenician settlers, and was later renamed Melite by the Romans. Ancient Melite was larger than present-day Mdina, and it was reduced to its present size during the Byzantine or Arab occupation of Malta to enhance its defences.
Mdina was once the country’s capital city and housed the Maltese nobility and religious authorities (and property continues to largely be passed down from families and from generation to generation).
Today, it has a population of just under 300, but its unusual mix of Norman and Baroque architecture, reflecting additions installed by subsequent occupations, have made this city one of Malta’s most popular attractions. As it sits on a plateau, Mdina offers unobstructed, incredible views over the rest of Malta.
No cars (other than a limited number of residents, emergency vehicles, wedding cars and horses) are allowed in Mdina, which is partly why it has earned the nickname ‘the Silent City’.
While you’re in Mdina, pay a visit to St. Paul’s Catacombs, an extensive system of underground galleries and tombs dating from the third to the eighth centuries CE.
Mdina is around 13km away from Mellieħa, that’s 20 minutes away by car and just over an hour by bus.