On a sunny Saturday morning we woke early and headed to Mdina, Malta’s old capital. Set on a hill high above the surrounding countryside, this imposing walled city is just beautiful. Even as you drive towards it you know it’s something special. Those honey coloured walls appear to be keeping the secrets of past centuries safe inside.
Crossing the bridge that leads into the city through its main gate is a Game of Thrones fan’s delight. This is where Catelyn Stark and Ser Rodrik Cassell enter King’s Landing. In their attempt to warn Ned about the Lannister’s involvement in Bran’s ‘accident’ and subsequent attempted murder by a knife wielding intruder. And of course where she sees her husband for the last time as she and Rodrick Cassell ride away from the city on their way north.
Another place Game of Thrones fans can’t miss is Mesquita Square. Just a minute or so off the main tourist route through the city you can find this quiet, unassuming square. But look a little closer and you’ll realise this is the setting of Peter Baelish’s brothel. As well as the the fight between Jamie and Ned when Ned is skewered in the leg by one of the Lannister soldiers.
Just inside the gate you’ll find the pretty tourist information office, housed within Torre dello Standardo, once part of the city’s defences. As well as the Natural History Museum, where we killed half an hour with the kids before exploring the city.
I love this place with its brightly painted shutters and doors. Mdina is called the ‘Silent City’ – one of the reasons for which is because no cars are allowed in unless they are owned by a resident, so there are fewer cars to dodge than in other parts of the island.
And if you time it right and go early, you really do feel like you’re in a silent city. It’s so peaceful and a real escape from the hustle and bustle of the world outside the walls. That is of course until one of the kids gets bored and starts moaning – luckily there are plenty of gelato shops to bribe them with.
The narrow streets and alleyways are the perfect place to escape the sun during the heat of the day. And at night they’re lit by lamp light, creating a lovely warm glow on those honey coloured walls.
And of course there’s palazzos. This is where the oldest and most noble families in Malta have lived for centuries. These grand old houses are decorated with ornate carvings and balconies. I had fun picking out which one I’d prefer to live in.
Then there’s all the door porn. Not only does Mdina do bright coloured doors and shutters, it also does door knockers. And some of these things are a real sight to behold.
And if all that sightseeing wears you out, you can always admire the views over the surrounding countryside from the bastions. Or settle yourself in one of the pretty cafes next to a trickling fountain. And enjoy an iced coffee (or a milkshake) and a slice of cake as we did. All under the watchful eye of one of the locals.