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Gozo Ferry Crossing by night

The trip to Gozo by scheduled ferry that leaves from Cirkewwa, Malta to Mgarr Gozo is never the same.  At times there’s a long queue of cars to get on the ferry specially when there is an event in Gozo, weekends and public holidays or Summer time but waiting time has improved so much recently.  Different seasons also make a difference with clear water in sunny weather or rough sea with waves knocking on the bow of the boat.  Then there’s day which might be crispy clear or cloudy bringing the colour of the sea deep blue. Sunrise and Sunset is always spectacular. But there’s so much to admire during a clear night with the moon shining brilliant white, highlight the lighted structures against the surrounding dark shadows.  Comino, the small island between Malta and Gozo is uninhabited and Saint Mary’s Tower sparkles its grandeur, a majestic sight indeed.

The Cittadella

The Cittadella lies on top of a hill surrounded by fortifications set up by the Knights of Malta to act as a refuge for the Gozitans from any attack. Going round these fortification you are able to get beautiful views of Gozo and treading through the narrow street you are able to discover treasures of history, churches, museums. Of impressive interest is the Cathedral of the Assumption and small hidden chapels, the hidden silos where they used to store grain, iron cannons and so much more to explore.

The traditional village of Xaghra

The village of Xaghra dates back centuries and years have given back a wealth of historical heritage.

Xaghra lies on high ground north east of the capital town of Victoria and this bestows picturesque views in many areas of the village.  There are three valleys encircling the village Ramla, Ta’ L_Ghejjun and Marsalforn that lead to a choice of three bays, Ramla l-Hamra, a sandy beach with the most unique red sand, Ghajn Barrani and Marsalforn, a bay filled with entertaining establishments.

Being probably the oldest village in Gozo, there are various historical tourist attractions dating back thousands of years. 

Ggantija Megalithic Temples were built around 3600 BC, older than the famous Stonehenge in England.  Ggantija is derived from the Maltese word “Giant”as it was believed that these temples were built by giants.  There are stone hearths which suggest that animal sacrifices took place and also large spaces that might have been used for ceremonies.  The temples overlook the valleys beneath Xaghra that stretch out to the nearby village of Xewkija with its outstanding church.

Ix-Xaghra Stone circle is found just 400m away from Ggantija temples.  This is a burial site dating back 4000 BC.  The remains found here has shed a wealth of information on Maltese and Mediterranean pre-history

South west of Xaghra there are 3 blocks of stone stand on end remains of a temple.  From other excavations it was found that there was a village before this temple was built.

Calypso Cave which is at the edge of Xaghra overlooks the beautiful bay of Ramla l-Hamra is mentioned by Homer in The Odyssey of the Greek myths. The myth recounts that Gozo is Homer’s Island of Ogygia and this the beautiful nymph Calypso kept Odysseus as a “prisoner of love” for seven years.

Ninu’s cave is found in the rear of a house in Xaghra.  It was found by Mr Joe Rapa in 1888.  This cave is impressive for its plethora of natural stalactites, stalagmites and also, in some areas, helictites.  Another cave which was found later is also underneath another ordinary house, Ta’ Xerri Grotto also, with stalactites and stalagmites with various identified forms.

A significant building which can be seen from many places in Xaghra is Ta’ Kola Windmill built in 1725 now housing a museum of country life displaying typical rooms and tools.  There is a narrow staircase which leads the original milling gear, complete with huge millstones.

Behind the main church there is the Pomskizillious Museum of Toys displaying a variety of toys dating back from the 19th century.

In the main square of the village one cannot oversee the imposing basilicata dedicated to the Nativity of Our Lady.  The feast is celebrated on 8th September and this is a public holiday in Malta.  As it is one of the last feasts before winter, this feast is very popular and the people in Xaghra make sure that the celebrations are elaborate.  There is also the church of St. Anthony Abbot built in 1400 AD and rebuilt in 1601 AD.  The feast of the Saint is on 17th January and it is a special occasion as animals and pets are blessed on this day.  Their owners are given a rusk and a bag of oats symbolising prosperity.

The main church square of Xaghra is always bustling with activities, traditional events or just for relaxation in the various restaurants and cafeterias that continually frequented by both tourists and locales.

ABOUT GOZO

Although just 5km away from mainland island of Malta, Gozo is a completely different lifestyle more rural and relaxing.

Gozo means “Joy” and is the 2nd largest island of the Maltese Archipelago with a population of around 30,000 inhabitants.

Gozo is reached from Malta by a schedule ferry service that starts from Cirkewwa, Malta and docks in Mgarr, Gozo roughly every 3 quarters of an hour.  In Summer it is serviced day and night but during winter it stops for a few hours.

Before the Knights of Malta built the Citadella, Gozo was more exposed than Malta to passing raiders.  In 1551, the Saracens swept almost the entire population and took them as slaves.  

Gozitans lead a distinctly different lifestyle from the urban Maltese, are more tranquil and speak Maltese in a typical Gozitan accent.

All roads lead to the capital city of Victoria and the beauty of Gozo that it is easier and quicker to go from one place to another.  But don’t be tricked into thinking that you get bored earlier as there is so much to see and do.

Gozo has a wealth of history and is a natural treasure.  Festas and traditional events pack a tourist agenda of activities throughout the year and if this not enough, Gozo is plagued by restaurants, pubs. cafeterias and entertaining establishments.

About Malta

The main island of Malta forms part of the Maltese Archipelago which lies approximately in the centre of the Mediterranean Sea 93 km south of Sicily and 288 km north of the African continent

The area of Malta is 316 km2  making it the 10th smallest country and population is around 475,000, the 5th most densely populated nation.  For anyone reading this statement, it may seem that Malta can be visited in a day but in this small space there is a richness of history to discover, natural beauty to admire and so many various activities to ensure a fun-filled holiday to match your preferences.

Homer wrote about Gozo in the Greek Myths. Malta has been mentioned in the Bible as Saint Paul was shipwrecked and lived for a few months before his martyrdom in Rome. In 1565 Malta defeated the Barbary corsair Dragut Reis who commanded the fleet of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent. The English honoured Malta with the George Cross for their bravery in the Second World War.

Malta is in the centre of the Mediterranean and has been the centre of history through thousands of years.  Various civilisations and rulers left their imprints on these islands.  Treasures evidence such historic periods from prehistoric times with paintings done by stone age men, temples dating from 4000 years BC, Carthigians and Phoenicians remains, interesting Roman ruins, valuable heritage left by the Knights of Malta, stories of Napolean’s plunders and the legacy of the British colony until Malta’s independence in 1964.

All this has not imposed on the natural beauty of the island with its hills and valleys, beautiful surrounding crystal blue Mediterranean sea, the mild climate leaving the sun shining bright for many days during the year gifting its inhabitants with magical sunrises and mystical sunsets.

Maltese traditions are also very popular especially on the island of Gozo and villagers prepare for these events throughout the years.  It is their pride and joy.  The festivities are mostly Christians with each village celebrating annual village festas, the Carnival that comes before the lent, Christmas and Easter traditional activities.  There are also traditional activities organised by the Government and also local councils which are also very engaging and pleasing.