Rabat: the suburb of Mdina (Malta’s old capital city)


Rabat is a town in the Northern Region of Malta. The name of Rabat 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.

Nowadays, Rabat contributes to the Maltese economy by exploiting tourism and agriculture.

Rabat: 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. 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.
  • Paul’s Grotto: St. Paul’s Grottois set beneath the beautiful St. Paul’s Church in Rabat. According to the Book of Acts it was here that St. Paul and his missionary party took refugee after their ship wrecked on the island of Malta on their way from Crete to Rome. After their arrival to St. Paul’s Grotto in Malta, they began preaching about Christianity to the Maltese people.
  • Casa Bernard: A 16th century palace combining fine architecture and impressive antique furniture, paintings and objets d’art.
  • Wignacourt Museum: It was formerly the baroque residenceof the Chaplains of the Knights of St John.  The Wignacourt Museum was open in 1981 and spreads over three floors. The Wignacourt museum displays several collections of art and sculpturesimportant to Maltese history.
  • Chadwick Lakes (Wied il-Qlejgha): Chadwick lakes(or Wied il-Qlejgha) are artificial fresh water lakes between Rabat and Mtarfa on the Western part of Malta. A dam was built in the late 1890s allowing fresh water to gather after winter rain. Apart from serving farmers in the area who irrigate their fields with it, collected rainwater serves as a habitat for different flora and fauna.


Uncover Malta
Follow us

Uncover Malta

We are an international team and we want to show that Malta and Gozo are "the place to be".
We have been discovering the best for you on this island.
Uncover Malta
Follow us

Latest posts by Uncover Malta (see all)

Rate and write a review

Rabat MT
Get directions