Spotlight on: Rabat
Spotlight on: Rabat
Rabat is a charming medieval town located in the Northern Region of Malta. It is one of the oldest cities in the Mediterranean and its history dates back to the time of the Phoenicians. The town is known for its narrow cobblestone streets, which are lined with old stone buildings and churches. Over the centuries, Rabat has been inhabited by several civilisations, each of which has left its mark on the town’s architecture, culture, and traditions.
Rabat is a Semitic word which can mean “fortified town” or “suburb”. The 20th century brought about major developments in Rabat. The quaint town increased its population to around 12,000 after the Second World War. This growth encouraged the construction of new housing areas, such as Tal-Virtu and Għajn Qajjet.
Rabat adjoins the former capital city, Mdina, and a north-western area formed part of the Roman city of Melite until its medieval retrenchment. In the 9th century CE, the Arab forces of the Aghlabid dynasty invaded Malta and took control of Melite. During this time, the town became an important trading centre in the Mediterranean. The Arabs also introduced the Islamic religion to the island, which had a lasting impact on Maltese culture.
Rabat, which was formerly a Mdina suburb, has grown significantly since its prime. This landmark is commonly acknowledged as the birthplace of Maltese Christianity. The Apostle Paul is believed to have resided in the Rabat region after being shipwrecked on the island around 60 AD. Since that time, other religious orders, including the Franciscans, Dominicans, and Augustinians, have established themselves in Rabat. Numerous ruins may be seen, with early Christian catacombs located underneath the town, engraved with crosses and agape tables.
During the late nineteenth century, Rabat saw the introduction of several new social services, including the construction of the first primary school, the beginning of postal services, the upgrading of spring water, and the beginning of train service between Valletta and Rabat.
A trip to both of Rabat is an absolute must for anyone visiting Malta, as it offers a unique experience and stunning sights. While in Rabat, one might also visit the fortified city of Mdina, renowned for its medieval and baroque architecture and is considered to be one of the finest examples of an ancient walled city in Europe. Rabat, with its vibrant market, antique stores,
and cosy cafés, is also a fantastic spot to learn about Maltese culture and traditions. Consequently, Rabat is well worth a visit, whether you’re a history enthusiast or simply searching for a genuine Maltese experience.
St. Paul’s Grotto is located beneath Rabat’s serene St. Paul’s Cathedral. According to the bible, The grotto was St. Paul’s residence during his three-month visit to Malta in the year 60 A.D. A statue of Saint. Paul was presented to the grotto in 1748 by Grand Master Pinto. St. Paul’s Grotto in Rabat was one of the first sites of Christian devotion on the island. Interestingly, Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI both paid the grotto visits in 1990 and 2010, respectively.
Verdala Palace is an impressive 16th-century hunting lodge located on the outskirts of Rabat. It was constructed in 1586 under the reign of Hugues Loubenx de Verdalle, and it presently serves as the President of Malta’s official summer house. The location of Verdala Palace was formerly occupied by a hunting lodge constructed during the tenure of Grand Master Jean Parisot de la Valette in the 1550s or 1560s.
Originally known as ‘Wignacourt College,’ the Wignacourt Museum was primarily a baroque mansion of the Knights of Malta’s Chaplains. It was then transformed into a museum and opened in 1981. The Wignacourt Museum offers a diverse range of exhibits that explore the history and culture of the island. The museum features several permanent and special exhibitions, covering topics such as the history of the Knights of Malta, the island’s geological and archaeological past, and the traditional Maltese culture. The museum also features a cafe and a shop where visitors can purchase souvenirs.
St Paul's Catacombs
St Paul’s Catacombs is a fascinating historic site in the heart of Rabat. It is one of the seven megalithic temples in Malta and is believed to be the oldest free-standing structure in the world. The catacombs offer a unique experience of exploring the ancient tombs, which are believed to date back to the 4th century BC. Visitors can also admire the beautiful frescoes and decorations that have been preserved over the centuries.