Exploring the Old Maltese Capital Mdina and the Village of Zurrieq

Owing to the scant frequency of flights from Geneva (Switzerland) we had set on our 2 days sojourn to Malta ardent to make the best out of our time in the amazing country. Few hours sauntering the alleys and exploring the history and heritage of Valletta had left us smitten by the charm of the Maltese Capital city. We collected the car keys and drove to the old capital Mdina to explore more of what the country had to offer from its well preserved bygone treasure.

We maneuvered through the narrow lanes of Valletta swiftly past the beige walls punctuated with vividly colored windows. A short drive along the glinting sea and the colorful boats docked at the harbor and we were back into the bustling towns. The towns we drove through emanated a charm consonant with that of the historical city of Valletta.

We drove into the interior of a neighborhood lined with elegant houses bedecked with bougainvillea and other colorful flowers to park our car.

Mdina Rabat Zurrieq Malta

Our first stop was San Anton Palace Garden which is one of the oldest and most pretty gardens of Malta. We bought our tickets and strolled through the paths winding through the spectacular beds of flower and gorgeous fountains.

Mdina Rabat Zurrieq Malta

Mdina Rabat Zurrieq Malta

Mdina Rabat Zurrieq Malta

During our visit, the garden hosted a fascinating ‘Fur and Feather Show’ with more than 60 specimens of types of fowls and rabbits, a tradition dating back to the early 20th century. I had a chance to cuddle one of the furballs too.

Mdina Rabat Zurrieq Malta
We next drove to the 17th-century Parish Church of Balzan. Built in the form of Latin cross the elegant red dome and the belfry dominated the small town of Balzan.

Mdina Rabat Zurrieq Malta

Around 10 minutes drive is the Rotunda of Mosta an imposing neoclassical Roman Catholic in the town of Mosta. The church with its magnificent facade flanked by two bell towers and a massive rotunda is the third largest in the world.

Mdina Rabat Zurrieq Malta

Mdina Rabat Zurrieq Malta

Mosta Dome is also known as a ‘Miracle Church’. During the World War II, two bombs hit the church but failed to explode leaving more than 300 people assembled in the church unharmed.

Next on the list was Mdina the old capital city of the island of Malta. St. Paul’s Cathedral’s magnificent dome, with red-and-white stripes, flanked by 2 bell towers and the hilltop medieval town of Mdina could be spotted from afar.

We parked our car in a public parking right outside the entrance to Mdina. The entrance to the city is through a monumental Mdina gate which runs over a moat, a public garden today. Entering into the Mdina gate is like a dramatic entry into the bygone era.

Mdina Rabat Zurrieq Malta

On our right was an entrance to the courtyard of a remarkable baroque building of Vilhena Palace which houses the National Museum of Natural History.

Mdina Rabat Zurrieq Malta

Mdina Glass is the Malta’s first glass factory producing a myriad of handmade glass items, a collection of novel and quality glasswares.

Mdina Rabat Zurrieq Malta

We strolled through the lovely cobbled stone alleys of Mdina to St. Paul’s Cathedral. The Mdina cathedral is a 12th century Roman Catholic cathedral built in the baroque style. The dome’s interior is decorated with remarkable paintings and the marble floor contains inlaid tombstones similar to Saint John’s Co-Cathedral in Valletta.

Mdina Rabat Zurrieq Malta

Palazzo Santa Sofia in Villegaignon Street is one of the oldest well preserved medieval building which dates back to 15th-century. The palace today houses a museum of art and antiques.

Mdina Rabat Zurrieq Malta

One can saunter through many gorgeous backstreets of Mdina winding through sandstone walls and impressive statues .

Mdina Rabat Zurrieq Malta

Along the same street was the Church of St. Roque with a remarkably beautiful interior.

Mdina Rabat Zurrieq Malta

The ‘Silent City’ Mdina within the ancient ramparts encloses immaculately preserved buildings, palaces, and cathedrals of medieval and baroque architecture. The bastions offer a breathtaking panoramic view of Malta and the surrounding sea.

Mdina Rabat Zurrieq Malta
Rabat the neighboring city of Mdina is a buzzing suburb of the old capital of Mdina and connected to Mdina through the Greek gate.

Mdina Rabat Zurrieq Malta

Typical backstreets and houses in Rabat.

Mdina Rabat Zurrieq Malta

Rabat has quite a few historical attractions like Domus Romana and St. Paul’s Catacombs.

Mdina Rabat Zurrieq Malta

The sun was scorching hot so we decided to head towards the coast to explore the seaside. After driving for a few km on good roads we started driving into the interior clueless of where we were headed though our GPS still showed our destination as the coastal villages we were looking for. We were surrounded by open stretches of land with no sign of inhabitation and even if we could find someone to guide us there was no U-turn.

Mdina Rabat Zurrieq Malta

After around half an hour we finally spotted a building. The Tal-Providenza chapel is located in the countryside of the town of Siggiewi in the southern part of Malta. So we now knew where we headed.

Mdina Rabat Zurrieq Malta

We further drove through the dry countryside with no vegetation or civilization. We could not think of going back into those stone-walled streets so instead chose to continue. Finally, after 10-15 minutes of the drive, our road joined a highway along the vast blue seas.

Beautiful promenade lined with benches where people stopped and took pictures. We too parked our car and spend some time taking in the fresh air.

And Lo and Behold there below along the sea shore was a tiny brightly colored village with boats resting at the shore.

Mdina Rabat Zurrieq Malta

Exhilarated we drove further looking for a way down to the seashore and found a hairpin turn leading down to the shore.

The small quaint village of Zurrieq was fortunately not a touristy spot. We parked our car and strolled along the inlet bay lined with boats beautifully painted. From here one could take boats to the Blue Grotto Malta caves one of the natural wonders of Malta.

Mdina Rabat Zurrieq Malta

The bay was surrounded by astounding and picturesque rock formations.

Mdina Rabat Zurrieq Malta

Amidst the sea, we could spot a silhouette of the Filfla island which is a protected bird sanctuary.

We watched with awe as the sun melted into the overcast sky suffused with orange hues and drove back to Valletta.

Mdina Rabat Zurrieq Malta

It had been a delightful day exploring the Maltese capital city Valletta and the old capital city Mdina and there could not have been a best way than to end the day with a gorgeous sunset in the village of Zurrieq.

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23 Comment

  1. I have heard such wonderful things about Malta that it has moved higher on my list of places to visit. It looks like you were able to see a lot in your short visit. The town of Mosta looks wonderful. I would definitely like to see the cathedral some day.

  2. Joanna says: Reply

    I have actually just returned from Malta a week ago. I had some amazing experiences there and one of them was exploring Mdina in the afternoon, right before sunset. I had the luck to stroll around the already empty streets and have the Silent City all to myself. Did you have the pastizzi at the famous Crystal Palace in Rabat?

  3. Carmy says: Reply

    I am a sucker for a good arch – the arch in the first set of photos is gorgeous! That road is making me claustrophobic! I would be scared of being stuck. No U-turns for sure.

  4. Paola says: Reply

    Malta is so fascinating! I have been there twice in the las year and I really loved it so much! Mdina is really fantastic, walking inside the small and quiet streets was the nicest moment.

  5. Tom says: Reply

    I was in Mdina about 4 years ago and I found it brilliant, along with the rest of the island. Malta is a very underrated destination, and I think people don’t realize how old it is. I also found the food and wine to be brilliant, especially a wonderful lunch I had in Mdina consisting of the freshest veggies I’ve had in ages.

  6. Malta has the magical old world charm. Love the old streets. Also the facade of Rotunda is so impressive. Your trip reinforces a short trip to it will be worthwhile.

  7. Ami says: Reply

    Miracle Church sounds really interesting and I sure would love to tour the catacombs. There is so much to see here. The architecture and history can really keep you busy. Wonder when I can get there.

  8. Tae says: Reply

    Catacombs – need to wander through those, they’ve always fascinated me. I love your photography and in-depth writing about your experience in Malta. To be honest, I didn’t know much about the area until this post 😀

  9. Malta looks and sounds so beautiful.Incredible images.The Miracle Church is so beautiful and interesting. Adding Malta to my list for sure.

  10. This is a beautiful place as i can see from the photographs. I must say I was not very familiar with Malta before reading your post but now that I have read the post, I would definitely want to see it some day. 🙂

  11. Mika says: Reply

    Wow! The architecture, especially the Rotunda, is just gorgeous! The Maltese gardens are beautiful also! I never really thought about visiting Malta before…but I just might have to!

  12. Shane says: Reply

    The floral beds and cathedrals are all quite stunning! Looks like an amazing place to throw out the map and get lost. I would’ve loved to check out the bird sanctuary as well!

  13. Wow! Malta looks amazing! I have never been before, but your photos make the nation look very inviting and full of rich culture and history! Thanks for the inspiration!

  14. I still have not written my post on Malta and how much we loved it there. Only the Tour Bus was a disaster but Valetta is lovely and so is Mdina. Looks like you guys had fun too.

  15. Blair Villanueva says: Reply

    It’s Monday here, and now your post makes me crave of weekends! Ah that beautiful garden, I find it so romantic and the sunset looks so divine. You made my maniac Monday wonderful!

  16. Oh Malta, one of the best holidays that I’ve ever had. Something that surprised me about Mdina was the quiet streets, it felt that you were walking in a ghost city! Such a big contrast to the hustle and bustle of St. Julians, where I was staying!

  17. Rashmi, I was always amazed how they were able to do those huge amazing paintings on the ceiling in the churches like the Church of St. Roque.
    We have many similar ones in Ukraine.
    Maltese architecture is unique and somehow it is very welcoming and cozy! Such a beautiful island.

  18. jenni says: Reply

    Wow the palace gardens looks so pretty I never visited here when I was in Malta looks like im going to have to go back lol. And that sunset is beautiful makes me wish I was there

  19. Ana says: Reply

    The arcade covered with bougainvillea at palace gardens remind me of Worth Avenue, an old upscale shopping district at Palm Beach, Florida! Glad to know that you got a chance to attend the ‘Fur and Feather Show’ and on my first look at your picture, I thought that you were holding a puppy! Loved the marvelous architectures of Rotunda of Mosta, Vilhena Palace, Saint John’s Co-Cathedral and backstreets of Mdina!

  20. I’ve heard so much about Malta! The architecture is so beautiful especially loving the interiors of Church St. Roque, the roof is painted so beautifully. Would love to visit Malta someday.

  21. I love the colors in these photos. Especially the shots from San Anton Palace Gardens. Those flowers are just too beautiful 🙂
    Also I admire those quiet backstreets of the city. Definitely a place worth visiting

  22. Anju says: Reply

    Awhh the fur ball! <3 Im curious to know why Mdina is called the silent city! Would have loved to collect some of the glass art, your pictures look gorgeous too!

  23. Stacey says: Reply

    Stunning pictures. One of the only places we didnt get to on the Med. The gardens look so beautiful and peaceful and I can almost here the trickle of water from that fountain.

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