Rabat is a village located in the West of Malta, just outside Mdina. The name of the village means a 'suburb' in Semitic, as it was once the suburb of Mdina, the old capital city.In the 15th century, while the area served as a shelter from constant pirate attacks, several religious orders arrived in Rabat, remaining there ever since. When the Order of St. John arrived in Malta, Rabat earned significance for its close proximity to Mdina, St Paul’s Grotto, the Covent Schools and for the arable farmland in the village. During the late 19th century, under the British Rule, Rabat saw the introduction of a number of new social services, such as the building of the first primary school, the initiation of medical and postal services, the upgrading of spring water, street lighting and the start of the train service between Valletta and Rabat. It was also in those times when the two music band clubs, L’Isle Adam and Count Roger were established.
The 20th century brought about major developments in Rabat. The population increased to around 12,000 after the Second World War. This growth encouraged the construction of new housing areas such as Tal-Virtu and Ghajn Qajjet. Nowadays, this remarkable development distinguishes the old part of the town from the new.
Things to see and do:
The Catacombs: Rabat hosts the well-known Catacombs of St. Paul and St. Agatha. These were utilized in Roman times to lay the dead to rest, as the Romans thought it unhygienic to bury the dead in the city.
Domvs Romana(Roman Villa): The Domvs Romana hosts the remains of a valuable townhouse that has excellent mosaics found in the Peristyle and the surrounding rooms. The mosaic pavements rank among the finest and most ancient mosaic compositions in the western Mediterranean, along with those of Pompeii and Sicily.
St. Paul’s Grotto: During the Roman rule, the city of ‘Melita’ extended up to the Parish Church of St. Paul. The ditch surrounding the city was full of caves that were utilised as graves by the residents. Tradition holds that the Apostle St. Paul used one of these caves as a base for his apostolic work, which became a meeting place for the first Christian community. This grotto could thus be considered as the foundation site of the Catholic Church in Malta, a declaration that was done in 1617. Since then, the grotto has been considered as a sacred space, and many influential people showed their respect for this grotto, including His Holiness Pope John Paul II in 1990.
Casa Bernard: A 16th century palace combining fine architecture and impressive antique furniture, paintings and objets d’art.
Wignacourt Museum: This museum hosts an exhibition of Punic-Roman artefacts including ceramics, pottery, portraits, sculptures and so much more.
Visit Chadwick Lakes (Wied il-Qlejgha): Wied il-Qlejgha is the remains of a river that existed during the Pleistocene era. Chadwick Lakes are filled by water gathering from nearby fields because of a dam that was erected in the valley. The dams were built by the British Government in 1886 by Sir Oswald Chadwick and so it became known as Chadwick Lakes. During the 1990’s, part of the valley was cleaned and the side walls were replaced by rubble stones. These enabled flora and fauna to congregate within, and yet hold strong during heavy water flows. Street furniture was introduced so that the area can also be enjoyed by day visitors. Chadwick lakes today provides a relaxing winter outing for families and children, who can enjoy the flora and fauna present together with the small waterfalls onsite.
Bus numbers 51, 52, 53 from Valletta