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Like nearby Mdina, Rabat played a major role in Malta’s past and is a prime source of its cultural heritage. This large provincial township was part of the Roman city of Melita, with the sites and archaeological relics found, testifying to the town's importance during the Roman period. For many centuries, religious orders have established themselves within the precincts of Rabat and Franciscans, Dominicans and Augustinians still flourish here in their spacious convents and monasteries, catering for the religious needs of parishioners in their churches. The town is a commercial centre and acts as a market to its large agricultural hinterland. It is also well established on the tourist map due to its archaeological and historical sites: The Roman Domus (Villa), Catacombs, St Paul’s Grotto and the fine churches and monasteries.