A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Citadella or Citadel is a small fortified city situated on an imposing hilltop in Gozo’s capital city of Victoria. The Citadel always served as a site of defence and refuge for the inhabitants of Gozo in times of battle. It is believed to have been first fortified during the Bronze Age, and later developed by the Phoenicians and subsequently by the Romans, continuing to serve its strategic role over the centuries. The Knights of St John also reconstructed part of the complex at the turn of the seventeenth century. This acropolis also houses a 17th century baroque cathedral designed by Maltese architect Lorenzo Gafà.
The origins of the church of Ta’ Pinu date back to the 17th century. Shortly after claims were made that the voice of Our Lady was being heard by passers-by and that people were miraculously healed as a result, Ta’ Pinu became a place of pilgrimage drawing crowds of devotees. The then chapel was transformed into a sanctuary and a Romanesque style church – later given the status of Minor Basilica – was built on site in the 1920s. The image of Our Lady was deemed miraculous by he who later became Pope Pius XII. The late Pope John Paul II who was recently beatified on May 1st, 2011 visited the Ta’ Pinu Shrine, where he prayed in the chapel and celebrated mass.
The Basilica was built over three hundred years ago, since the old one – also dedicated to the “Visitation of Our Lady to the Saint Elizabeth” – was too small for the villagers need and rather too far from the village center. The church plans were drawn up by the renowned architect Guzeppi Azzopardi and was built by a certain Dijonisju from Gharb itself. It can be said that this Baroque building is the only church of its type in the Maltese Islands.
The Ggantija complex is composed of two Neolithic megalithic temples in Xaghra, constructed over 5500 years ago. These are reputed to be the oldest freestanding religious structures of their kind both in the Maltese islands and on an international scale. These UNESCO World Heritage Site temples, archeologists believe, may have served a fertility cult purpose, as the several figurines and statues excavated, depicting fertility and abundance, seem to imply. Legend has it that a female giant – hence the reference to giants in the very name attributed to this complex – built these temples as a site of worship.
This is the only crafts village in Gozo where various crafts are created. Some of the crafts found within this village include silver filigree, lace making, pottery, leather making, blacksmith, stone decorators and glass blowing. At Ta’ Matmura Farmhouse B&B we have several examples of the work from The Pottery Barn and Inkwina, plus you can book for a pottery or ceramic course whilst you are here.
The Azure window was a naturally formed arch that looked like a table over the sea, two almost perpendicular vertical rocks held a huge horizontal mass over them a result of extensive fault lines as well as the wind and wave action on the rocks. It attracted a huge number of visitors and inspired many artists who painted the magical site on canvas. It also featured in the movies “The Clash of the Titans” and “The Count of Monte Cristo” as well as being a backdrop on the first series of "Game of Thrones" The arch of the window was eroding with the actions of the wind and water; pieces of rock falling every now and then. Now it has made a very interesting new dive site beneath the waves, so she has not gone altogether.
An iconic Gozo dive, the Blue Hole is reached by walking over ancient coralline limestone rocks with rough surfaces and some sharp edges. From the shore a shallow-water shelf leads out to an abrupt drop that is the Blue Hole. This natural rock formation resembling an upright tube has been carved out by thousands of years of wind and wave power. It offers a sheltered entry for this dive which takes you through a huge archway starting at 6m and stretching right down to the bottom at 15m. A large cave at the bottom of the hole, exactly opposite the archway, is also worth exploring. At the back of the cave is some spectacular scenery. Out of the Blue Hole, following the wall to the right takes you straight towards the Azure Window. This impressive archway, attracting thousands of tourists above the water, is quite as striking underwater. Diving around the outer leg of the Azure Window, the steep slope is covered with massive boulders, home to groupers, adding a bonus to this incredibly scenic dive.
Known as ‘Il-Qawra’ by the locals, this area constitutes the lowest spot in Gozo. The Inland sea is an expanse of shallow water set in a deep recess in the coastline produced by the collapsing of underwater caves millions of years ago. The bay is connected to the open Mediterranean Sea via a narrow 60 metre-long tunnel in the cliffs, called Blue Cave because of the colour of the sea within it. There are small fishing boats that can take you from the inland sea, through the tunnel to the open sea with majestic views of Fungus rock and the massive limestone cliffs.
The significance of Dwejra Bay is also due to a 65-metre high rock called Fungus Rock, known locally as ‘Il-Gebla tal-General’. The name is derived from a commander of the Knights of St. John, who discovered a plant known as Malta Fungus or Cynomorium coccineum. This rare parasitic flowering plant was highly prized by the Knights, since they believed it had medicinal properties and used it to dress wounds and as a cure for dysentery. Because of the importance of this plant, the Knights blocked access to the rock by smoothing the cliff sides, and guarded it against intruders. There were tough punishments for trespassers or anyone caught stealing the crop.
A wide and sandy beach with a particularly golden-reddish sand which makes this beach different from all others in Gozo and Malta. Its real Maltese name isIr-Ramla l-Ħamra — the Red Sandy Beach. The area around the beach is quite interesting and provides some very rich historical treasures. Roman remains lie beneath the sand and the famous Calypso Cave overlooks the western side of the beach. According to tradition, this is the cave referred to by Homer in The Odyssey. The nymph Calypso lived in this cave and it is where she entertained Ulysses for seven years before he resumed his journey.
San Blas Bay is a pretty beach of red sand, very similar to it’s big sister Ramla Bay. It is accessible from the village of Nadur via a narrow road, the last part of which is exceptionally steep. One has to park vehicles at the top and walk down the steep slope, but the effort is very well worth it.
The walk from Sannat to Xlendi via the coastal path along the Sanap Cliffs which are impressively tall limestone cliffs offering unspoilt views to Malta.
Mgarr ix-Xini beach is a small picturesque bay set within a creek and a steep sided natural valley and one of the most secluded beaches in Gozo offering tranquillity and beautiful views to all who venture there. The clear water is perfect for snorkelling and scuba diving and one of the best places in Gozo for underwater photography.
Dahlet Qorrot is a small inlet with pebbly beach nestled in the northern cliff face of Gozo just below Nadur and Qala. The cove is used by a small number of fisherman who have turned some caves into boat houses and storage areas for fishing gear and one can see these fishermen mending their fishing nets or repairing their colourful boats. The bay is shallow with crystal clear water and a very popular spot for swimming, snorkelling and scuba diving, as well as with photographers.
Ghasri Valley, or Wied il-Ghasri is a breathtaking, narrow creek with impressive high cliffs on both sides and about 100 steps down to a small pebbly beach.The crystal clear blue waters are very popular location for swimming, snorkelling and of course diving, with divers coming to explore the cove and the underwater caves, especially Cathedral cave located between Reqqa Point and Forna point. The pebbly beach at Wied il-Ghasri Bay is quite small and only accommodates a few sunbathers, however visiting is a must and well worth the effort of negotiating all those steps. In winter and spring, when the weather is a bit cooler Wied il-Ghasri is a beautiful place for country walks or cycling.
Marsalforn is one of the most popular resorts on the Island and in summer it throbs with life as hundreds of Gozitan, Maltese families and visitors move in to spend the summer at the coast. A beach of sand and small pebbles is backed by a promenade which runs right round the head of the bay, providing a pleasant place to stroll at all times of year. The many bars and restaurants make it an ideal location for traditional summer evening gatherings for visitors and locals alike. The rocks along each side of the bay provide plenty of additional space for sunbathing and swimming straight into deeper water. These are also good places for snorkelling. Marsalforn is a popular base for diving enthusiasts, who can choose from a variety of diving schools and dive sites. Motor and sailing boats give the place a lively look in summer and there are several good boat trips on offer including a cruise around Gozo and a trip over to Comino and the legendary Blue Lagoon.