A Brief History
The history of the town of Rabat goes back some 2000 years ago when it still made part of the old Roman City, ‘Melita’. Some time later, the Byzantine restricted the city. With the Arab civilization, the city took the name of Mdina and the part outside the gates was called Rabat, meaning suburb.
Some years later, after the departure of the Norman Count Roger, the Maltese archipelago became officially united with Sicily until 1530.
In the XV century, these surroundings served as a refuge from the continuous attacks by the pirates. It had also been in this century when in Rabat arrived all the religious orders, which are still here nowadays.
With the arrival of the Gerosolmitan Order of St. John, Rabat gained its importance for the fact that it was situated so close to Mdina (sede governattiva), for its connection with St. Paul’s Grotto, for the Convent Schools and even for the fruitful agriculture which was beneficial to the surrounding areas.
The French Domination, which occurred in 1798, was strongly opposed for the defence of the human rights, for the historical and religious patrimony, under the guidance of the hero, the Notary Emanuele Vitale.
During the British Colony in the second half of the XIX century, Rabat relived the introduction of the new social structures, the construction of the first primary school, the introduction of the first medical and postal services, upgrading of spring water, street lighting and the introduction of the train transport service between Valletta and Rabat. It had also been in that era when the two local music band clubs, L’Isle Adam and Count Roger were established.
But the major development took place in the twentieth century, particularly after the Second World War, when the population increased up to approx. 12000. This kept on happening all along the sixties and seventies. Therefore this urged the need of new dwelling constructions in the various Rabat areas, such as tal-Virtu’ and Għajn Qajjet. Nowadays, this remarkable development distinguishes the old part of the town from the new.
Ir-Rabat, is now a residential habitat of more than 11, 950 people. It provides a good contribution for our country’s economy by aiding tourism and agriculture.