Mdina is a medieval walled town which served as the island’s capital from antiquity until 1530, when the capital was moved to Birgu. When the Order of Saint John (the Knights Hospitaller) arrived in Malta in 1530, Grandmaster Philippe Villiers de L’Isle-Adam promised to uphold the rights of the Maltese people, and was given the keys of Mdina.
Evidence of settlements in Mdina goes back to before 4000 BC. It was possibly first fortified by the Phoenicians around 700 BC, because of its strategic location on one of the highest points on the island and as far from the sea as possible. When Malta had been under the control of the Roman Empire, the Roman Governor built his palace there.