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Mdina, circa 1565, showing position of gateways and early Hospitaller bastions.Mdina, circa 1565, showing position of gateways and early Hospitaller bastions


Mdina’s medieval gate.


Perhaps the most visible and most evident vestige of the medieval defences of Mdina is Greeks Gate, or Porta Grecorum. Although this was not the main entrance into the city, but merely a porta falsa, or secondary gateway that went down directly into the land front ditch, it is nonetheless the only complete medieval entrance in all of the Maltese islands to have survived to the present day and, therefore, tells us much about the nature and workings of fortified medieval entrances.

As it stands, however, Greeks Gate can only be best appreciated when seen from the within the city, where its distinctive horseshoe profile is immediately visible. Its external façade, although still intact, is enclosed within a vaulted passage way which was grafted onto the medieval ramparts when a baroque portal was erected in front of it in the early eighteenth century by the French military engineer Charles François de Mondion.

The original medieval gateway itself consists of two adjoining vaulted arches, both of pointed-horseshoe profile, spanning through the width of the medieval rampart.  The interior vaulted arch, which rises to a height of five metres, is nowadays partially filled in by the wooden framework of an aedicule of the Baptism of Publius.  This intrusion also witnessed the lowering of the crown of the outer arch, resulting in a lowering of the gate opening. The gate’s wooden door, which opens in two leaves, although still in situ, does not appear to date from earlier than the Hospitaller period.