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town, west-central Malta, adjoining Rabat, west of Valletta. Possibly Bronze Age in origin, it has Punic, Greek, and Roman ruins. The name derives from the Arabic word madinah ("town," or "city"). It was also named Notabile in the 15th century, possibly by the Castilian rulers who made it the Maltese capital until the mid-16th century, when Valletta was nearly completed; it was then referred to as Citta Vecchia ("Old City"). Mdina retains intact its remarkable fortifications with a complete wall and contains many 15th-, 16th-, and 17th-century Maltese palaces. Its chief building is St. Paul's, the cathedral church of Malta (restored after an earthquake in 1693), said to occupy the site of the house of the Roman governor Publius, whose father was cured by the Apostle Paul. Beneath both Mdina and Rabat are catacombs, partly pre-Christian, showing early Christian burials. Some damage occurred during World War II, but the town retains its Renaissance atmosphere. Pop. (1992 est.) 418.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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