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Malta Series #5: Mdina

Mdina, the old capital of Malta before Valletta. It is called “the silent city” by natives and visitors because of the lack of the usual city noises, and is still confined within its walls. Just over 300 people live inside the historical citadel and even the savings of a lifetime is not enough to buy a house there.

Mdina is a medieval walled town, situated on a hill in the centre of the island of Malta; it was originally founded by Phoenicians for its strategic location, on one of the highest points and at maximum distance from the sea. During the following centuries it has been conquered by Romans, Normans, the Order of the Knights of the Hospital, etc…

Mdina means “walled city”. This is one of the most notable features of this town, because it’s quite different from the other Maltese and Gozo towns: it seems more eternal and indestructible, because of the whitish stone with whom buildings are made. Waling around the streets (paved with the same kind of stone) is really relaxing, thanks to the silent atmosphere and lack of noise: Mdina is famous for being the “silent city”.

Only a few hundreds of people live in the walled (central) part of this town and they’re an elite bunch of very rich people; Maltese people say that even the savings of a lifetime is not enough to buy a house inside the walled citadel!

In this town the most interesting thing to photograph is architecture: there’s a clear difference between other Maltese towns’ architecture and the amazing Arab-influenced architecture of Mdina. The most important detail in Mdina houses are balconies: you can surely notice the typical shape of Arab balconies, as you can see in the main cities of northern Africa.

This is another proof of how many cultural influences melted together in this very small state, due to the very high number of invasions and migrations, which occurred in so many centuries.

Mdina small streets are made for long walks, because there aren’t so many cars, so you can easily walk around and make a lot of shots from any point of view (even in the middle of the streets). The sunlight creates some curious, yellowish shadows, reflecting on the whitish stones on the ground and on the walls. I really suggest using a Color Negative 400 film, because light couldn’t penetrate so much among the high buildings of the town, especially if you’re in a very narrow street. XR film is not recommended, for the same reason: sometimes there’s a lack of light, even though it’s a beautiful sunny day. Black and white could be a waste of time, because it’s really amazing to shoot the yellowish shadows made by the buildings and the monuments.

Outro/Footer: Alessandro Panelli (aka yo.panic or .panic) is a Medicine and Surgery student, a photographer and a writer from Padova (Italy, near Venice). Read more about Alessandro’s work and life “here”:http://alessandropanelli.tumblr.com or add him on Facebook or Google+.

written by yopanic

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