Walking tours of Vallatta, Rabat and Mdina.

Trip Start Mar 16, 2004
Trip End Jun 13, 2004

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Flag of Malta  ,
Monday, March 29, 2004

The Maltese Tourist Office has produced some excellent little leaflets for self-guide walking tours of the main tourist areas, Valletta, Mdina, Victoria(Gozo). For a change I left the bike behind and tried out the leaflets. Good fun.

I spent Monday morning in Valletta, admiring the architecture and visiting St John's Co Cathedral. Miriam, owner of the Hibernia, had listed it as one of the main sights in Valletta. 1 lira entrance fee and I was in. The church was jammed full of tour groups, help!! It was difficult to just move around.

The building was very grandly decorated, painted ceiling, hundreds of floor panels commemorating the knights. It had a very military air to it. Lots of skeletons in various stages of anguish depicted in the floor panels, weapons, shields and armor. It strikes me as a church so full of distractions it must be hard to actually pray in it.

To one side is a little chapel dedicated to the Madonna of Carafa. It contains tall silver gates. Amazing to look at.

Several Carravagio paintings were on display in the Cathedral Museum along with vestments up to 500 years old, I can't imagine my clothes will be so well preserved in 5 centuries time. Massive tapestries covering the walls. I liked the museum.

At noon I took the bus from near the Triton Fountain to Rabat and again used the brochure as a guide. It led me to St Paul's Church and grotto. A tunnel went under the road to the Wignacourt Museum and the catacombs beneath it. Its a small local museum but has some interesting artifacts including a 400 year old book and a huge wooden rattle used instead of church bells during the week before Easter.

I walked up to the walled city of Mdina and explored it. Classic narrow winding streets to make it easily defendable. More ancient limestone architecture. A group of students were being told the history of Mdina by a guide outside the cathedral. One of the girls exclaimed that she would prefer to go to the bar.

Mdina cathedral is just as richly decorated as St John's in Valletta, but the panels are no so military. Here you see mitres and other religious symbols. Some of the floor panels are quite recent, I saw ones dating to 1979 and 1996. When I asked him the doorman said some of the floor panels, but not all were actual graves.

Around the corner was a little building containing models of various scenes from Easter week. They were each about 50cm long and 30 high. Really well made and beautiful detail. I think its an annual display.

As I left Mdina via the main city gate a horse and carriage was going in. It looked so right compared to the couple of cars I had seen go in earlier.
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