27 January 2008 (posted 12 March 2008)
If the beautiful island of Malta is home to more motor vehicles per capita than any other city except Singapore, contrast this automotive dominance with the fortress city of Mdina, an oasis of calm and silence.
Walking its three-thousand year old streets is inspiring, unexpected and a bit of a laugh, all at the same time:
- Inspiring, to think that these same streets have been here for sixty lifetimes or roughly fifteen times the duration of European settlement of Australia.
- Unexpected when, emerging from a narrow cobbled canyon, a 180° vista opens up before you. A vista of lush green, turquoise and azure glimpsed over the city's ancient ramparts, and when you find a lovely al fresco café atop them from which to soak it all in, the view AND the banana cake are equally amazing.
- A bit of a laugh, when you see the strange and intrusive way cars have been injected into this ancient citadel: They pop up in the strangest spots. And, surprise, surprise: The ubiquitous 4 x 4 has even made it here. But the trade-off for this intrusion is that it's very much a living city, rather than some museum piece.
After Mdina, our last pitstop on this whirlwind weekend was to the temples of Hagar Qim, billed in the tour guides as the oldest man made structures on Earth, predating the pyramids by 500 years. It was a fitting end, which really summed up this island and it's comfortable co-existence with its history. Check out the photo of the dogs playing around the base of the stones!
© Rob Morgan 2008