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The charm of Gozo is apparent the moment you arrive there.  Greener, more rural and smaller than Malta, life on Gozo moves at a leisurely pace.  The rhythms dictated by the seasons, fishing and agriculture.


Gozo has been inhabitated since the 5th millennium BC, as witnessed by the megalithic structures at Ġgantija. The first Neolithic settlers probably crossed over from Sicily. Another interesting neolithic structure is the Xagħra Stone Circle.
In July 1551 Ottomans and Barbary pirates conquered Gozo and enslaved all 5,000 or 6,000 inhabitants, bringing them to Tarhuna Wa Msalata in Libya. Their departure port in Gozo was Mġarr ix-Xini.
The history of Gozo is strongly coupled with the history of Malta, since Gozo has been governed by Malta within recent history, with the exception of a short period of autonomy between October 28, 1798 and September 5, 1800.

Where to go

Victoria (Rabat)
victoria rabat Gozo Malta tourism

All roads in Gozo lead to Victoria, or Rabat, as the local people call it. Almost the moment you arrive in Gozo, you see its Citadel rising steeply above the surrounding countryside. The impressive bastions command a superb view of the Island.
For centuries the Citadel served as a sanctuary from attack by Barbary corsairs and Saracens. At several times in Gozo's history, its population was taken into slavery by these raiders. When the threat subsided after the Great Siege, a prosperous town grew up below the Citadel.
Victoria is not just the geographic heart of Gozo, it is also the centre of everyday activity. It manages to combine the bustle of its market and shops with a relaxed and sociable atmosphere. It is a great place to watch the Islanders go about their day, especially when the main market square, It-Tokk, comes to life.
Browse around Victoria's market and narrow winding streets and you'll find everything from delicious fresh produce, cheeses and wines, to antiques, craft goods, fishing nets and knitwear. The town also has a thriving cultural life all its own, with some surprising attractions ranging from opera to horse races in the main street on festa day.

gharb Gozo Malta tourism

Gharb is probably one of the oldest Gozitan villages, where various archaeological excavations exposed the remains of Neolithic and Bronze Age settlements in the area. The Phoenicians were early settlers, but the name Gharb is purely Arabic, denoting the establishment of an early but organised community during Arab domination between 870 and 1090 AD. However, names of early Christian devotion such as St. Demetrius and St.Publius, indicate that pre-Arab Roman and Byzantine settlements existed before this westerly village took its present name.
Gharb is the second oldest village parish in Gozo. It was established a Parish on 29th August 1679 by Bishop Molina and the old church known today as "Taz-Zejt", served as the first parish church for fifty years. This church with its adjacent cemetery was constructed in 1678 on the foundations of an older one. It is called 'Taz-Zejt' because of a legend that says that an old woman was cured when she spread over her body some of the oil that oozed out the church's side.
The present architecturally fabulous Parish Church and Collegiate Basilica situated in today's village square was built in 1699 and was consecrated in 1729. It was built to replace to older and smaller chapel of "Taz-Zejt". The present Basilica is dedicated to the episode of the Visit of Our Lady to her cousin St. Elisabeth, popularly known as the feast of the Visitation. The feast day is on the 31st May of every year and the outside festivities are held on the first weekend of July. The village of Gharb has other churches and chapels that intertwine in traditional legends and religious devotion. One of these chapels is dedicated to St.Demetrius and lies near the westernmost cliffs of the island also known unimaginatively as Cape of St. Demetrius. Legend has it that Turkish raiders once stole the son of a local lady called Sgugina. After the poor mother wept her distress in front of the titular painting in the chapel, St. Demetrius was seen riding his horse out of the painting, then charging the Turks and returning Sgugina's son to safety.
The most popular Shrine on Gozo, the one dedicated to Our Lady of Ta' Pinu also lies within the perimeter of Gharb. This architectural masterpiece was built next to an old chapel (still existing), where it is profoundly believed that back in 1883, Our Lady has spoken to a devotee from Gharb named Karmni Grima. Ta' Pinu Sanctuary is a place of great devotion and is of national importance. Numerous pilgrims, both locals and tourists visit Ta' Pinu Shrine all year round. The main painting of the church depicts the Assumption to the Heavens of Our Lady, and is the same painting that was enshrined in the old medieval chapel.

The citadel
The citadel Gozo Malta tourism

The Citadel owes its roots to the late medieval era, but the hill has been settled since Neolithic times. After the Great Siege of 1565, the Knights set about re-fortifying it to provide refuge and defence against further attack. Until 1637, the Gozitan population was required by law to spend their nights within the Citadel for their own safety. In later, more peaceful times, this restriction was lifted and people settled below its walls, creating the prosperous town of Rabat, now known as Victoria.
An earthquake in 1693 damaged many of the buildings within its walls but today, with the help of UNESCO, these are being carefully restored. The Citadel, like its Maltese counterpart Mdina, seems lost in time, though not abandoned. Its narrow alleys house shops selling local crafts and produce.
The Citadel's fine baroque Cathedral is a masterpiece designed by Lorenzo Gafa', the Maltese Architect who was responsible for the magnificent Cathedral of Mdina. The site on which it stands may well have been that of the Roman Temple of Juno, mentioned by Cicero in his writings. The Cathedral, built early in the 17th century, is small but graceful. Its floor is made up of a mosaic of marble tombstones and ecclesiastical emblems, while its ceiling has a remarkable trompe
l'oeil painting depicting the interior of a dome that was never built.

xewkija Gozo Malta tourism

Xewkija, which lies in the middle between Mgarr Harbour and Victoria, is the oldest village in Gozo. It became the first parish outside Victoria on the 27th November 1678 by Bishop Molina and became the first district 'contrada' to be known as 'casale' or village. The liturgical village feast of St. John the Baptist falls on 24th June, and the external festivities are celebrated on the closest Sunday. The word Xewkija is derived from Arabic meaning an area of thorny wastelands, common at some point in time. A remnant of Arab culture in the whereabouts of Xewkija is the renowned marble slab of Majmuna (pron. Maimoona) with an inscription in Arabic dating back to 1173. It throws valuable light on life during Arab cultural domination. It also proves that Malta was by that time still under strong Arab influence, even though Arab political domination was ended with the arrival of Count Roger the Norman in 1090. The slab is the tombstone of an Arab girl named Majmuna, who died and was buried in the area between Xewkija and Sannat. The inscription is carved on a thick marble slab. On the underside there is a pagan symbol, that probably implies that the slab was taken from some pagan temple. The girl had died on Thursday, 21st March 1173. Today the Majmuna Stone is one of the most highly cherished historical treasures in our islands and could be found in the Museum of Archaeology in Victoria.
The awesome Rotunda, naturally dedicated to St. John the Baptist, is Xewkija's distinctive landmark and parish church. Tourists and visitors flock year round to visit the church and its attractions. It offers an unforgettable panoramic view of Gozo from its enormous dome. The monumental church is an enormous circular structure in white local limestone. It is called a Rotunda because of its form. Eight concrete columns covered with stone support its elegant dome, 75 metres high, with a 28-metre diameter, and a circumference of 85 metres.This boasts the third largest unsupported dome in the world. Its weight is calculated to around 45,000 tonnes. The interior is richly decorated with fine sculptures and modern paintings. The floor is in polished Carrara marble and the main altar is also carved in precious marble. The Rotunda of Xewkija is a superb architectural masterpiece that reveals the exquisite texture and the versatility of local limestone. The church was built in replacement of an older church, parts of which were faithfully reconstructed using the original church stones. The valuable stonework of the old church could be still enjoyed by visitors on the rear side of the Rotunda. The Xewkija church, which is the largest in Gozo is the Seat of the Knights of the Order of St. John and was built from Maltese stone by local masons and craftsmen.




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