Reasons to visit Gozo: The best of Malta
Gozo or Ghawdex as it’s known in Maltese is a beautiful, historic island off the coast of Malta. At 14 kilometres long and 7.25 kilometres wide, it’s the second-largest in the Maltese Archipelago.
The island of Gozo is connected to Malta by a ferry service which runs from Ċirkewwa in Malta to Mġarr Harbour in Gozo. The ferry runs all day, every day, all year round and takes around 25 minutes. As you cross the ‘fliegu’ or channel, you will see the island Comino on your right-hand side.
Gozo is rich in history and culture, its history goes back to 5000 B.c. when a group from Sicily succeeded in crossing over on some form of sea-raft The lands have been inhabited by Phoenicians and Carthaginians, Romans, Arabs, French and more recently the British, to name a few.
Malta and Gozo became formally a British crown colony in 1813 and the island was transformed into a fortress colony. Its resistance to the Axis bombardments during the Second World Was is legendary. During this time, Malta suffered greatly, becoming the most bombed place on earth. They were in the spotlight for the war on the Mediterranean and after 15,000 tonnes of bombs were dropped on these islands, it is incredible to see how far they have come in rebuilding their home. Malta and Gozo became a sovereign independent state within the commonwealth on 21 September 1964 and were declared a Republic on 13 December 1974. These islands have many stories to tell, some tragic and some victorious.
Places of Interest in Gozo
The Megalithic temples of Ġgantija in Xaghra were built around 5,000 years ago. They are believed to have been built before both Stonehenge and the pyramids in Egypt. One legend surrounding the construction of this impressive UNESCO World Heritage site is that they were built by a giantess called Sansuna, who got her super-strength from eating broad beans!
Gozo even has a place in Greek mythology. Homer’s Odyssey tells the tale of Odysseus and his epic journey home from Troy to Ithaca. Within the story, one of the most outstanding myths is that of the intriguing nymph, Calypso. On the Northern side of Gozo island, just outside of Xaghra there is a cave on a cliff, thought to be the same cave mentioned in `The Odyssey' where Calypso, the beautiful nymph kept Odysseus as a `prisoner of love' for seven years. The cave overlooks Ramla Bay, a stunning red sand beach, popular in the summertime with both locals and tourists.
The Cittadella, also known as the Castello sits right in the centre of Gozo, rising above the capital city, Victoria. The Gozitans would take shelter behind its walls whenever the island was raided by corsairs looking for slaves. In 1551 a huge army under the command of corsair Dragut, managed to breach the city walls and when the old citadel was unable to hold them back any longer, it fell and almost all of the people in Gozo were marched into slavery.
The Capital city of Gozo was given its name, Victoria by the British in 1887 in honour of the Queen's Golden Jubilee. However, the Maltese people usually call it by its original name, Rabat. The centre of the city sits on the hilltop within the Citadel, surrounded by the thirsty Meditteranean landscape. There are many cultural attractions within the walls for tourists to see. There is the Folklore Museum, which presents traditional costumes and crafts, the Old Prison used by the Knights of Saint John in the 16th century. As you wander around you’ll notice that the cells are covered in prisoner's graffiti! You will also be able to visit the Archaeology Museum too.
Xlendi is an old fishing village that has become one of the island's most popular seaside resorts. Located along the South West side of Gozo, this bay is great for swimming, fishing and diving. Restaurants are lined up along the small sandy beach, so you can sit by the water’s edge, on a sunny afternoon and completely relax into the Gozitan life.
You won’t find any shortage of dive centres here and that is because Malta and Gozo are great places to dive. Due to the war, there are many sunken wrecks which divers are able to explore and with incredible visibility and rocky scenery, it makes Malta a superb place to go diving.
Although it is a small island, Gozo promises to enrich your visit with beauty and culture. The tranquillity and laid back way of life are sure to leave you feeling calm and satisfied. Visiting Gozo will not leave you disappointed!