MALTA (11)


GOZO – VICTORIA

After we’ve done 10 posts about some of the most beautiful places in Malta, it certainly is now time to turn our eyes towards Malta’s sister island, Gozo.

To me, Gozo is greener (and more relaxed) than Malta. Maybe it’s because they have long been farmers and only part-time fishermen – they do after all supply Malta with much of its produce.

Many visitors to Gozo are day-trippers (like we were on our first holiday in 2011), arriving mid-morning and leaving again late in the afternoon. But we’ve realised that you need to stay a little bit longer to fully appreciate and enjoy the relaxed lifestyle. And so, it happened that we’ve booked a weekend in Gozo, in the beautiful little seaside village of Xlendi.

On the ferry in our rented car
The small harbour of Mgarr in Gozo

The ferry trip usually takes about 20 minutes (a little longer when the sea’s a bit rough), but it was always a pleasant ride between the two islands.

You will remember from my previous posts about Malta that I’ve mentioned just how small this Mediterranean island is … well, Gozo is just over a quarter the size of Malta – 15km (19.5 miles) long and 7km (4.5 miles) at its widest point.

They say people in Gozo have discovered the ultimate laid-back approach to life … well, these 3 gentlemen in Gozo’s capital, Victoria certainly enjoyed the slow pace in Gozo 😄

In this post, we will take you to Victoria, Gozo’s capital. Here, we will discover their beautiful cathedral, the ancient Citadel, and a museum (or two). We hope you enjoy this visit with us.

Our first glimpse of Victoria’s Cathedral

Short history on Victoria:

Gozo’s capital city Victoria was formally known as Rabat, but renamed Victoria in 1897 to celebrate Queen Victoria’s diamond jubilee – a move not really welcomed by the locals, who still refer to Rabat rather than Victoria.

The Citadel:

The Citadel is built on one of the many flat-topped hills in the centre of Gozo and its origins can be traced to the late Middle Ages.

The walls of the Citadel dates from the 16th to the 18th centuries

In the early 17th century country folk trudged up the hill to spend the night in safety in the Citadel – it was the law (however, in 1637 this law was overturned and people moved out of the city).

Many of the buildings within the walls were destroyed by the 1693 earthquake and today we can find a number of museums, some craft shops and crumbled medieval dwellings.

On a clear day, a 360-degree panorama unfolds from the top of the Citadel and offers spectacular views of Gozo.

Views of Gozo from the walls of the Citadel

Museums inside the Citadel:

As mentioned above, there are several museums inside the walls of the Citadel. The Cathedral has its own museum, then there’s an Archaeological Museum, the Folklore MuseumNatural Science Museum and the Old Prison.

Here’s a quick tour of two of these museums:

Archaeology Museum:

This 17th century former home of a Gozo family contains the rich material culture of Gozo from prehistoric times to the late medieval period. There’s also excavated relics of the Ggantija temples (which we will present to you in a future post).

Roman amphorae (wine jars)
Roman coins (3rd century AD)

Folklore Museum:

The Folklore Museum is spread over three late medieval houses and display mostly rustic memories of old Gozo. Implements used by fishermen, hunters, weavers and carpenters are on show, along with an old country kitchen.

Fishermen’s boat (luzzu)

After our visits to all of the museums, we’ve visited the Craft Centre. And eventually I had the opportunity to visit a place where the beautiful lace of Malta’s been made.

Bastion Lace:

Lace is probably the most famous traditional craft. Women, particularly in Gozo, keep up the tradition in their own homes. At Bastion Lace we’ve met Maria Mizzi, a wholesaler in handmade Maltese Bobbin Lace. She enthusiastically showed us the displays of locally-produced lace … and of course, I had to buy a beautiful handmade piece of lace.

Maria in her shop, Bastion Lace

The Cathedral

We’ve saved our visit to the Cathedral for last and as always, were blown away by the beauty of these cathedrals.

The Cathedral was started in 1697, replacing a previous church on the site, and completed in 1711. It was built in the Baroque style and built entirely of local limestone.

Walking inside the beautiful Cathedral

You may search in vain for the dome – because it isn’t there – which is one of the cathedral’s distinguishing points. It seems funds were running short before its completion. So, the islanders hired the Sicilian artist Antonio Manuele to paint a “trompe l’oeil” (optical illusion) dome on the ceiling.

The “trompe l’oeil” dome – an ingenious painting
The beautiful inlaid marble slabs (17th – 19th century)
The priests happily posed for a photo

After all of this sightseeing, it was time to have lunch. There are many restaurants inside the Citadel, but we’ve heard of one with splendid views over Gozo and went in search for the San Martino Citadella.

Stepped alleyways in the Citadel
What a lovely invitation to a restaurant

At San Martino Citadella we did find the splendid views, as well as a great plate of food. The waiter suggested deep fried cheese and bruschetta with marinated tomatoes – it was delicious and we drank a crisp glass of white wine with our meal.

After lunch, we took a leisurely stroll through the maze of passages within the fortified walls, as well as into Victoria.

Walking inside the fortified walls of the Citadel
A local and his dog sitting in the shade of the high walls
Colourful flowers decorate the white balconies

Earlier, at the Bastion Lace shop, Maria told us that we might just be fortunate to find one of the local women of Gozo making lace in one of the side streets. And how happy was I when we’ve came across one of these women where she was busy making lace in the traditional way.

A local woman busy making lace … yes, I did buy more lace ☺️

In our next post about our visit to Gozo, we will take you to the Ggantija Temples. This is the largest, best preserved and by far the most impressive prehistoric temple.

We have done these trips in 2011 & 2013

Categories: Malta (2011 & 2013)

38 comments

  1. Fascinating. The history of the Mediterranean has always interested me. Wish I could have seen more.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. We took the bus to the ferry for our trip over to Gozo and enjoyed our look around Victoria but dud to see quite as much as you, My mother used to do bobbin lace making but it all looked much too complicated for me. Fortunately though I still have some of the delicate mats and runners that she made. A lovely post on your visits bringing back fond memories.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s great that you’ve also had the opportunity to visit Gozo! Yes, I had a close look at how the local woman was making the lace and my head just spinned at the complexity of the process … but I’m amazed at how beautiful the end result is – wonderful that you still have some of your mother’s mats and runners 💌. Thank you once again for reading our posts about Malta (and now also Gozo), I’m glad it brought back some memories.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. A beguiling place with much charm. Admittedly I’d not really heard of Gozo, so this was an eye-opening article. Love the narrow alleyways and the sittin’ doin’ nothin’ folk. And I know that Sladja would love the museums and its Roman artefacts.

    Liked by 1 person

    • There is definitely no shortage of museums, so Sladja would not be bored 😁. Gozo was such a laid-back island and perfect to just relax for the weekend – but there’s still much to see and you should not miss Gozo when visiting Malta! Thanks Leighton, have a super weekend.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Those lace makers are so clever. I would never have the patience or the concentration span!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I have been to Gozo several times, thanks for the memory nudge.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I love those narrow alleyways and how wonderful to come across the lady making lace like that! The cathedral is beautiful – the trompe l’oeil dome would have fooled me had you not explained about it 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, I was so happy to meet that local woman while she was making lace – we could not communicate due to our language barrier, but she was such a warm and friendly person. You’re telling me about that (not) dome … I’ve stood for a long time in that cathedral with my head tilted towards the ceiling, because I just could not believe my eyes – literally 😁.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Dit lyk so rustig daar! Ou werelds mooi! Die kantwerk is omgelooflik mooi en so delikaat! Daardie geboue!! Dankie vir die pragtige ervaring!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Gaats, ek het jou terug geantwoord … maar nou’s dit weg … ek en die tegnologie is ook nie aldag maters nie 😛. Maar laat ek weer probeer … Malta en Gozo is ‘n soort mooi wat ek nie ken nie – en jy’s reg oor die “ou werelds mooi”. En ja, daai kant lappies is pragtig (en so duur), maar nadat ek gesien het hoe ingewikkeld die proses is en hoe lank dit neem om een klein lappie te maak, verstaan ek ook hoekom.
      Ek is bly jy het jou stappie saam met ons deur Victoria se strate geniet.

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  8. This looks like such an interesting place to spend the day, especially since it’s only a 20min ferry ride from Malta. The Cathedral is simply stunning! You were definitely saving the best for last.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed this post! It’s hard to capture the beauty of the Cathedral on photo’s, but it does give you some idea of just how spectacular it is … we were really impressed with Gozo (although it’s maybe a bit overshadowed by its bigger sister, Malta 😊).
      Thanks for reading – we appreciate your comments.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Wow, the cathedral is beautiful!

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Even though you told us, my brain still thinks there’s a dome in that Cathedral. I’ve never heard of Gozo but it looks like an interesting place to spend a day. Maggie

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  11. What a beautiful place! I love the cathedral with it’s intricate details. And speaking of intricate, hand made lace is incredible! I can’t imagine how long it must take!! Fried cheese – YUM!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Absolutely – according to me, Gozo is a hidden gem (a bit in the shade of lovely and vibrant Malta), but definitely not to be missed! The lace making process looked very complicated, but wow it’s just so beautiful! Love fried cheese … well, just love cheese overall 😀.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. They just don’t build places like this anymore! Beautiful pictures!

    Liked by 2 people

    • That’s so true Diane! I think that’s why I was so so overwhelmed with Malta (and Gozo) – I just never saw buildings like these before … well, that was until we’ve done that long hiking trail of 729km in Spain (the Camino) in 2017 – there I’ve seen glimpses of these buildings again.
      Thank you for continue to read about our Malta adventures – have a great week.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Wow reminds me of Spain. 🙌🌷

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Lovely, thank you, I enjoyed my visit and looking forward to your next share 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  15. I want one of those wine jars! I, too, like the cathedral very much. The floors, walls, & ceiling are magnificent. I love the idea of traditional lace making. And how lovely! Oh, and the barrel with the menu, bread, & tomatoes would draw me in. I guess I need to visit. 😊 Thanks for sharing, Corna! 🌞

    Liked by 1 person

    • Those wine jars are just beautiful! I was so surprised with our visit to Victoria – you don’t really see the beauty of this place until you start walking in the streets. And oh yes, I would definitely recommend that you add Malta somewhere on your list of “must see places” 😊.
      Thanks for reading Lisa and have a great week 🌸.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. My dear folks, thank you so much.

    As you know, I spent a month in Malta a few years back and fully intended to visit Gozo and perhaps even Comino (possibly both) but never quite made it so thanks for showing me what I missed, I am very regretful now that I didn’t make it,Gozo looks beautiful. This is a great series.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Gozo was a wonderful place to visit – we are so glad we were able to stay there for a weekend. Although it is so close to Malta, the atmosphere is completely different … more relaxed and not that crowded. Thank you for (continuing) to read our Malta / Gozo series … by now it must feel as if you’re back on the island again 😊.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Come on, Corna,

        your writing, even in your second language, is brilliant. Anywhere you write about I feel as if I am there. Yes, I feel back in Malta because I know it and I really wish now I had visited Gozo but even when you write about SA, a place I have never been and now am sadly unlikely ever to be able to go, I feel like I am on that beach or looking over those mountains as the sun sets and with the braai going.

        Elsewhere here you obliquely apologised for your English but there is no need. You write beautifully and to the extent that, dare I say it, you might even consider approaching some publications. I’ll bet SAA would love some of your stuff (a bit edited and trimmed down obviously) for their in-flight magazine. If not them then some of the travel companies. OK, I know the market is down on travel at the minute thanks to the Chinese and their virus but it will come back, you should start putting out feelers. You are certainly good enough to do it and I think you would probably be better in Afrikaans so do it that way and let them translate it, I am sure all the publishers have dozens of translators who would make your wonderful prose look really pretty in English.

        Think about it, you are good enough and it might be a bit of easy money for doing what you are already doing.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks Fergy – it’s really kind of you to say all of these things … and much appreciated.
        Berto encouraged me the other day as well to sent more of my writings (in Afrikaans) to publications. A little secret: I did write a letter to one of the major travel magazines last year about our 4×4 trip and they’ve published my letter and some nice pictures in their magazine … I was quite surprised as they have quite high standards. They’ve also contacted me for further articles on our travels … but I guess I’m not that confident (or maybe just too damn lazy)!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Now, you tell me how I had second guessed that? I can spot talent when I see it (I wish I had some myself) and I just knew your writing was good enough. It is engaging and honest which is what people want to read, especially in a short format. I’m not asking you to write a “War and Peace”!

        I’m so pleased, although not at all surprised, that you were published you have far outdone me on that front, nobody would ever publish my nonsense. Wow, I can now say I know another published travel writer (OK, I do already know a few but welcome to the group).

        Don’t worry about being lazy, most writers are, look at Hemingway, spent half the day getting drunk, fishing for an hour or two, maybe take in a bullfight if he was in Spain and is still regarded as one of the greatest American writers ever (not that that is a huge field). Go for it, you deserve to be read, even in short format in magazines or whatever, you are good at this stuff.

        I don’t know why as we have never even met face to face but I feel strangely proud of what you have done, it is brilliant and I would encourage you to keep up with it. I shall now add you to the list of published writers I know, if that does not sound too conceited.

        As for confidence, that is up to you!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you Fergy ☺️ … it’s good to know someone (although it’s just through writing) that believes in me.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Of course I believe in you and I am not in the business of “blowing smoke”. Your writing is great even in a language which is not your mother tongue and which you claim to be uncomfortable with. I am absolutely chuffed you have been published, although not terribly surprised. Now you’ve broken into the “gilded circle” you should really push now. Start pestering publishers with pieces.

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