Rabat, Mdina & San Anton Gardens
Visiting Attard, Rabat and Mdina, this tour takes you to the beautiful gardens of San Anton, the ancient catacombs of Rabat and the old capital Mdina.
San Anton Palace is located in Attard, and is the official residence of the President of the Republic of Malta. It was originally built in the early 17th century as a country villa for Antoine de Paule, a knight of the Order of St John. It was expanded into a palace following de Paule's election as Grand Master in 1623. The palace was used as a residence by subsequent Grand Masters, being enlarged a number of times in the process. It was the headquarters of the rebel National Assembly during the uprising of 1798-1800, and it later became a residence for the Civil Commissioners, Governors and Governors-General of Malta. It has been the official residence of the President since the office was created in 1974. The palace is surrounded by the extensive San Anton Gardens, parts of which have been open to the public since 1882. During this tour, we will first visit the Garden and then continue to the next stop - Rabat.
Rabat's name derives from the Arabic work for 'suburb', as it was the suburb of the old capital Mdina. Rabat is home to the famous catacombs of St Paul. These catacombs were used in Roman times to bury the dead as, according to Roman culture, it was unhygienic to bury the dead in the city. The Maltese Catacombs were never meant to be hiding places during persecutions or as living quarters. Part of the Catacombs are accessible from the Parish Church dedicated to St Paul, and it is said that the Saint himself lived there for three months when he was shipwrecked on the island in 60 A.D.
Our next and final stop is Mdina, also known by its other titles of Citta vecchia or Citta Notabile. Mdina is a fortified city which served as the island's capital from antiquity to the medieval period. The city was founded as Maleth in the 8th century BC by Phoenician settlers, then renamed Melite by the Romans. Ancient Melite was larger than present day Mdina, which was reduced to the size it is today by the Arab occupation in Malta. During this time the city gained its name, derived from the Arabic medina. Upon the arrival of the Knights of St John, the administrative seat of Malta was transferred to Birgu. Mdina remained to this day the centre of Maltese nobility and religious authorities, yet it has now earned the nickname 'The Silent City' by both locals and visitors. Mdina is on the tentative list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and is now one of the main tourist attractions in Malta.
Tours are held every Saturday
Children (5-12 years): €25
Children under 5 years: FREE
Half day Excursion to San Anton Gardens, Rabat and Mdina
St Paul's Catacombs Entrance Ticket