Monday, January 21, 2008

Mdina

Our third day in Malta we took a bus about half an hour's ride to the city of Mdina, called "The Silent City". It is in Mdina that St. Paul was shipwrecked as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles on his way to Rome to be tried. Here's us getting on one of the vintage buses in Valletta's main piazza.




First stop in Mdina was the chapel over the grotto where St. Paul was shipwrecked. This statue was donated by a Spanish member of the church.




Here's a wooden, polychrome-gilded statue of St. Paul.



We went down into the grotto where St. Paul lived for a time before continuing on to Rome. These steps lead up into Catacombs carved into the rock.





Next stop in Mdina was the "Domus Romana" or Roman House. While digging on the Saqqajja plateau workers accidentally came across what would turn out to be one of the most complete excavation of a Roman dwelling ever unearthed. The remains of the house were those of a wealthy citizen of the ancient Roman town of Melite. Today a reconstruction of the Roman house has been constructed over the ruins, and serves as a museum housing the artifacts found.




When the Arabs came to Malta they had a cemetery on top of the remains of the Roman Domus. This skeleton was found, belonging to an Arab. There were also numerous tombstones carved with Arabic lettering.


Here's some of the old Roman glass found at the exccavation site. The quality was pretty amazing for being 2000 years old. With a little Glass Plus it would look like it came from a souvenir shop here in Rome.


Part of the wall, which was painted with scenes.


This was one of several intact floor mosaics, all stunning.


Some old amphorae and pipe fragments.


After leaving the Domus we went into the actual city of Mdina which is walled. Here's Andrew sitting in an unusually shaped tree outside the city gate.


Mdina was a very beautiful city which reminded me of Avila, Spain, and Orvieto, Italy. True to its name it was completely silent as we walked around. There were many shots like this.....


Another one which I hope shows part of the character of the place. Note all the limestone.


Mdina is famous for its lace and glass. Here are some of the handmade lace items in a shop we stopped in.


We continued on until we reached the town Cathedral.


But before going to the Cathedral we got detoured into the museum. This is one of the exquisite vestments they had on exhibition.


A solid ivory crucifix.


One of three exhibits of Albrect Durer prints.


And a closeup shot. I love woodprints and the only artist I like better than Durer is Dore, so this was a nice treat.


As I mentioned earlier, Malta has been ruled by everybody from the Carthaginians to the Normans, the Knights to the Romans. In the museum was an exhibit showing coins from all of Malta's different rulers. The array was vastly amazing. Here are some Carthaginian coins.


Coins of the popes were also present, including this group of coins minted during the Papacy of Innocent XI. That would be a gold one right there in the middle....


More gold coins, minted during the reign of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain.


OK, the last coin photo, I promise :). They also had coins of all the Roman emperors (found on Malta) including this bunch of coins from the time of Constantine. It was quite ironic that we were viewing this exhibit right during the month when Malta changed currencies yet again, from the Lira to the Euro.


We finally ended up in the Cathedral, which had a very unique feel to it. Seemed like an opera house with all the red drapery. Can you say Baroque?!


A view of the beautiful dome.


A side chapel.


Leaving Mdina, I snapped this picture of the walls. What a great day...

5 comments:

DelGrosso said...

Thank you for this spectacular tour. I love the ivory crucifix. Awesome pictures!!! Thanks Anthony.

DelGrosso said...

Thank you for this spectacular tour. I love the ivory crucifix. Awesome pictures!!!

DelGrosso said...

The coins look real interesting.
Nick

Molly said...

The church and the views are awesome.Miss you guys alot!:]

molly

Barbaranne said...

What a cool 3-D effect in that floor mosaic! Bekah and I will have to add this to our list of places to see when we go in three years. Thanks for scouting the area out for us!