Today we're going to Mdina, a fortified city in Malta which served as it's capital city from antiquity to the medieval period.
First, the map of Malta, to get our bearings.
We took a city bus from our hotel in Bugibba to Mdina, 8 km south.
It was founded as Maleth around the 8th century BC by Phoenician settlers,
was later named Melite by the Romans, and then Mdina during the Arab occupation,
from the Arabic word Medina.
In 1530 Valletta became the new capital city of Malta.
St. Paul's Cathedral is its main landmark, but pay attention to those wee red umbrellas (top-right).
The bus stop for Mdina is outside the city wall where the horse buggies congregate.
Astrid and I did not take a buggy tour throughout the city,
but we spent plenty of time enjoying the scene.
Social media comes with the territory!
Before you enter the ancient walls, you have plenty to see outside....
including flora and fauna.
The photos on the right are of the carob tree, prominent throughout the Maltese Islands.
And then we entered another world.
It really is a walled city...of ca. 300 people.
You wonder what it'd look like if the sun weren't shining!
You don't see the homes unless you go on a tour.
It's only then that you see the inside courtyards and living spaces.
We only saw the walls in front of us everywhere we went.
And the horse-n-buggy tours, too, of course.
We even watched as one buggy backed up to let a car pass through!
I should have videoed it because the sound of the horse's hooves cannot be described.
I think I stood there with my mouth wide open for the several minutes it took.
Actually, one of the first stops we made was at the Mdina Glass shop near the entrance.
We even bought a small Christmas-tree ornament as a keepsake.
But our main destination was St. Paul's Square to see St. Paul's Cathedral from the 12th century.
Look at those gorgeous bell towers and "clocks."
Yes, of course we went inside!
It was hard not to look down at the floors, especially with their ornate "tombs."
Or up, at all the paintings on the ceilings.
Did you grow up in a church like this???? Me neither.
My guess is it's always under some kind of restoration?
That was enough to whet anyone's appetite.
So off we went to the Fontanella Tea Garden, one of Mdina's most famous tourist spots.
I think we had the date pie...with a hard cider (it was quite warm, after all).
So, remember those red umbrellas in the photo up above?
Fontanella offers fabulous views of the countryside outside it's walls.
No wonder everyone said we had to go there.
For so ancient a city with all its history,
it felt appropriate to see some "wabi-sabi artifacts" along the way.
I can't think of a better way to end such a tour of Malta's former capital city!