the Knights of St. John
Mdina or Citta' Notabile was badly hit by a great
earthquake which affected Malta and Sicily in 1693.
Extensive damage was caused to the foundations of its
fortifications. This natural disaster not only worsened
the already impossible defensive system but also caused
widespread destruction to many buildings within Imdina,
including the Cathedral.
A mass exodus of people sought safer dwellings in
the suburb of Rabat. Mdina was largely ignored by the
Grandmasters until the time of Grandmaster Vilhena
who restored the walls and fortifications; the main
Gateway built the Cathedral and a number of Palaces
and impressive building.
This was done with the aim to impress upon the proud
population of the city of the futility of rebellion
and to populate the city and to release a number of
people from Valletta whose houses could be demolished
and occupied by the new Palatial Buildings.
Gate to the City was erected in 1724 by Grand Master
De Vilhena, replacing an earlier draw-bridge gate the
outline of which, now walled up, is still visible some
metres away to the right of the present gate.