Fortified Cities

Old Fortified cities with a story to tell

The Citadel is a fortified city in Victoria on the island of Gozo and situated on a hill.  The fortifications are believed to have been built around 3,600 years ago.  The Citadel offers great vast views of the countryside, hills and towns of the whole island.  The sea also appears from up the hill.  Inside the Citadel, lies the cathedral of Gozo, St.Mary ‘s Parish church, which is designed in Baroque style.  The ceiling of the cathedral is quite impressive which gives the impression of a dome which was never built.  The interior is decorated with the usual side altars, paintings and statues.  The Citadel was reinforced by the Knights of St.John in the 16th century to protect its people from being taken as slaves and threats from the Muslims to fight Christendom.  There are several museums tucked away in the old buildings including the Museum of Archaeology with its highly interesting material from prehistory and antiquity; the Folklore Museum; the Natural Science Museum; the Cathedral Museum, the Gozo Nature Museum and the old small prisons.  One can buy one ticket that allows entrance in all the museums. The prison is highly interesting also for the wall carvings done by prisoners.  Walking through the small alleyways inside the Citadel is very enjoyable.  The Citadel gets very quiet and romantic in the evenings.  It is truly magnificent when lit up at night.

 

Mdina also known as the Silent City, is the old capital city of Malta and named by its former Arabic rulers.  It stands silent on the highest point of the island and used to be an important fortified city due to its position and distance from the sea.  Mdina, built in medieval times is surrounded by defensive walls and entrance is through the Mdina Gate.  The city looks indestructible due to the stone with whom it was built.  Upon entering the gate, the visitor will soon encounter ‘Karozzin’ drivers and their horses offering a ride around the seemingly impenetrable walls.  The city is characterized by typical narrow stone medieval streets, high-walled alleyways, noble houses, convents, chapels and palaces which help transport the visitor back in time.  Quite notable is the St. Paul’s Cathedral with its impressive interior and accompanying museum, situated in an open square.  Like most churches in Malta and Gozo, the Cathedral has a red-domed cupola which can be spotted off in the distance from most places on the island.  The architecture in Mdina is Arab-influenced and highly interesting.  Walking the winding narrow streets of Mdina is a pleasure that gives the feeling of living in medieval times while absorbing its rich history.  Walking along the walls of Mdina, one can enjoy expansive panoramic views of Malta and beautiful rural countryside while getting a sense of what the city was like in its hey day.  One will not be left hungry in Mdina as the city is filled with tempting restaurants and cafeterias offering mouth watering delicacies.  There are a just over 300 residents that live inside this walled town. Cars are not allowed inside Mdina but there are parking areas available outside the Main Gate.   Compared to the Citadel in Gozo, Mdina is larger and much more populated.
 


Fortifications:  At the beginning of the 17th century a process of building coastal watch towers was started at strategic coastal locations.  The aim was to provide the necessary feeling and belief that Malta was safe to live in.  The captivating 16th century fortress city Valletta and the three old cities of Birgu, Bormla and Isla were fortified as they were prone to attacks from the enemy since the harbours were located there.