|| Home |||June 13th, 2004|
Rabat & Mdina
February 19th, 2004
Unhurriedly we started at 10 a.m. in order to visit today the towns in the middle of Malta. But before that we still wanted to go to the Dingli Cliffs. Thus we took the bus No. 86 (0,40 Lm) from Bugibba to Rabat and from there we went further by bus No. 81 past the Busket Gardens to the town of Dingli. We had asked the bus driver to drop us off at that bus stop which is closest to the cliffs. The remaining 1 km to the coast we walked. The wind became stronger with every step. At the cliffs we got almost blown away. As soon as you get over the rim, the cliff drops 200 m. Here in the southwest of Malta the coast drops steeply in many places and at the Dingli Cliffs about 200 m and that makes them so impressive. Below the cliffs the locals run agriculture on a plateau, which is however private land. We walked eastwards to the Madalena Chapel where you have a wonderful view from. That walk was not a challenge. Since there were no people around, we climbed over a wall of stones at a side road and walked up to the rim where we had a gorgeous view from.
With tousled hair and the wind roaring in our ears we were glad to enjoy then the pleasant quiet of the Busket Gardens (largest woodland on Malta) further inland. It is in fact rather a park of trees but worth seeing for a scanty Mediterranean island. Close to the Busket Gardens on a plateau there is Clapham Junction, one of the largest fields of car ruts on Malta. We passed the sign, but we still wanted to get to Rabat and Mdina.
In Rabat, just before we got to to nice Piazza Tal Parocca, our noses made out the smells of a bakery. Thus we followed our noses and bought something to eat. The baker sold directly out of his baking room and everything was so cheap, fresh and delicious. After our meal we first visited the St. Paul´s Church with the grotto where the apostle Paulus was said to have lived in captivity after his shipwreck. There´s no admission fee, but a small donation is expected since there is someone who explains everything. The St. Paul´s Catacombs, not far from the church, are the largest burial complex in Rabat (admission 1 Lm). The burial places are in average about 5,4 m below the ground and so you first have to descend a long flight of stairs down into the complex which covers a total area of 2509 square meters (only parts of it are accessible). The St. Agatha Catacombs are said to be the most impressive ones because of the crypt which is painted out with frescoes. These catacombs can only be visited on a guided tour. We decided on the St. Paul´s Catacombs, not least because of their size, the possibility of walking through on your own and the permission for taking pictures and video recordings.
In the late afternoon we went on to Mdina, the former capital of Malta and one of the most beautiful things Malta has to offer. The town has got lots of churches, monasteries and palaces as well as a history that is 3000 years old and Mdina is enthroned on a plateau of rock where you can see almost the entire island from. The nice thing about Mdina is that it is closed to traffic except for residents. That´s why it has got the name "The Silent". The sun was already in a lower position and so the town with its narrow streets and the plays of light and shadow got its very special atmosphere. Most sights are only a few steps apart from each other. We visited the Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul. Its floor is covered over and over with gravestones. For those who like to visit more, there´s also the Museum of Natural History in the Vilhena Palace at the Main Gate, the Mdina Dungeons (former dungeons) or the Mdina Experience (multi vision show) . We simply enjoyed taking in the history of Mdina in all the narrow streets and having that fantastic view of almost the whole island from Bastions Square.