Thursday, July 14, 2016

MALTA: Rabat, the Suburb of Mdina

Just when you thought the Malta trip was done and over with, here we are again, picking up from where we last left off...outside Mdina, the former capital city.  (Bugibba to the north is always our starting point.)

Just outside the walled city of Mdina is the bus stop and the horse-n-buggy hitching post.
Instead of turning left to walk into Mdina, this day we turned right to walk into Rabat.
The bus stop...and the wall...separate the two cities.  That's how close they are.
In fact, Rabat is derived from the Arabic word for suburb.

One difference between the two cities is population size:  300 vs. 12,000.
So as we walked past the landmarks to find the main street in, we were prepared to see a lot.

We had been told that the Feast of St. Joseph was on Sunday, when the city would be celebrating.
Crowds don't work for us, so we made the decision to visit the preceding Friday,
little knowing it was when the city was prepping for the big day.

Everywhere we walked around city center, banners were flying...

and workers were setting up the props, attaching light bulbs, and having fun.
How many men does it take to change a light bulb???

While we watched, we suddenly saw we were standing in front of a church.
And because it was open, yes, we walked right in...little knowing it would close 20 min. later.
It's the Santa Marija ta'Gesu (ta' Giezu) church:  Our Lady of Jesus.

It, too, was being prepped for the Feast of St. Joseph!
Everything that could be covered in red velvet...was.

And as we were politely shooed out, a gentleman said THIS was the church 
from which the procession of St. Joseph would commence on Sunday.
Lucky for us that we could see it before they closed the doors.

As we continued walking through town, we paid tribute to all the saints:
Abraham, Moses, Isaac, Jeremiah, David, Jacob, Joseph, Isaiah....

and untold angels, plus assorted others.
Talk about a feast and calling everyone to take part!

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

At this point in the late morning, we visited St. Paul's Grotto and the Catacombs,
for which Rabat is known.  But that's another post.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

It was time for our koffie break, which we took in the main square,
opposite the Collegiate Church of St. Paul, consecrated in 1726.
Sadly, it was not open.

But it didn't matter, because there was so much else to see while walking around.
Malta is a Roman Catholic country, so there are RC churches everywhere.

And enough wabi-sabi to last a lifetime (not that she is, mind you).

How is it that walking around makes us hungry for carbonara!  HA!
And for the beers the locals love (all those 150 years of Bristish Empire influence)!
And for the Maltese bragioli we grew to love!

Impressions.  Impressions.  Impressions.

Did we mention that we OFTEN saw men together like this in Malta...but never women.

I suppose these were getting ready for Sunday's Feast.
Good for them to remember the flowers.

And then, as we headed back to the bus stop, another wee church beckoned,
Santa Maria ta' Doni (Ta' Duna):  St. Mary Duna, from the 17th century.

It's actually a chapel and doesn't appear to be used for services?
But there he was...St. Joseph with baby Jesus on the altar.

And there he was again as we left the city.
He's the patron saint of Rabat.

Happy Feast of St. Joseph!


  1. The day in Rabat was so special. Being in the middle of the preparations was quite unexpected... Lucky us to be in the church just before it closed. You took so many great pictures. So many memories topped of with a great lunch. A city to remember thanks to your wonderful pictures. IHVJ

    1. Thank you, Astrid. We were so lucky to have hotel owners who lived in Rabat and could tell us all the important things to see. Totally worth the day out that Friday before the Feast!

  2. All dressed up!

    I LOVE the old doors and windows. Sigh. And the food!

    As for those men sitting around town in fellowship, it was the same in Turkey and Greece ... never women.

    1. It must be a Mediterranean thing, then, Ruth, with the men sitting around? I'm sure there's a long history related to this (keepers of the gate, for instance), as well as matriarchy? Makes me want to study more about it.

      But yes, the age and wabi-sabi part of old Europe is the charm I cannot resist!

  3. Gorgeous pictures! Our Lady of Jesus Church is very regal looking, opulent even. Their religious traditions are very important to the people.

    1. Thank you, Marie. Almost all Roman Catholic churches are "opulent" in one way or another, from my perspective, especially here in Europe. They're like museums to me, if I may say so, because they're not part of my simple Baptist church experience growing up.

  4. Oh...those doors!!! Drooling here...ha! I'll echo Ruth...same in Morocco too! I think the women do EVERYTHING there! Thanks for sharing!

    1. As I told Ruth, I'm sure there's a long history related to this (keepers of the gate, for instance), as well as matriarchy? Makes me want to study more about it. In the meantime, let's keep enjoying the wabi-sabi. I think of YOU every time I see it. :)

  5. What luck for you to get all the beauty of the festival and little of the crowds. Another beautiful post. I await the catacombs and grotto.

    1. Yes, indeed, Ted. Serendipity comes to mind. :)

  6. What month did you go to Malta? It looks like the weather is good and the sun is out. I really must go back there.

    1. We were there from April 8-18, Marie, at a perfect time weather wise. We heard later that during the summer months it's unbearably H O T. I don't handle the heat well, so it sounds like we made the right choice!