At first sight, the Maltese island of Gozo appears bright and serene. It must be said that here you can walk or cycle, sleep in old rehabilitated farms, discover an exceptional prehistoric site between a scuba diving session and a cheese tasting... In short, you take the time to live and appreciate Gozo at its own pace.
Panoramic view from the ramparts of the Citadel
In the heart of the island, we start with the capital Victoria. Although it has not been called Rabat since 1897, the date of the jubilee of the British Queen Victoria who gave it her name, the elders still call it that way... Today, you can find the administrations and the shops there and, if hotels are rather rare for the moment, this does not mean that the city has nothing to offer... Far from it!
Its citadel is a real gem built by the knights in the 15th century (and beautifully restored a few years ago). From its hill, in the center of Gozo, it watched over the whole island, which it had to defend against Ottoman assailants and pirate incursions. Thus, until the middle of the 17th century, from sunset onwards, the inhabitants would go to the citadel to protect themselves from possible attacks. From the XVIII◊ century, the citadel was left to be abandoned
Today, it still dominates the island and the 360° view from its bastions is spectacular. From its ramparts you can admire the sea, the neighboring villages and, in the distance, Comino and Malta. This is obviously an opportunity to take beautiful pictures
Then, from the bastion of San Michele, you can see perfectly the dome of the cathedral. If it was destroyed by the earthquake of 1693, it was rebuilt in the wake by the Maltese architect Lorenzo Gafa. Located inside the citadel and dedicated to Our Lady of the Assumption, it is guarded by two cannons symbolizing the power of the Church. When it was built, money ran out and the dome initially planned was replaced by a flat roof, with a false dome painted in trompe-l'oeil by the Sicilian master Antonio Manuele. You should also take a look at the museum and an interesting World War II shelter, which was built in former grain silos
Discovering prehistoric sites
From the prehistoric temple of Ggantija, there are still some impressive ruins. They were unearthed in 1827 and are still full of symbols: the clover of fertility, the spiral of life, the opulent curves of a fertile divinity... Classified as a Unesco monument, it is the oldest of the non-embedded temples and, of course, the oldest of the 25 temples discovered in Malta
Built on the model of those of Karnak in Egypt, the temple of Ggantija dates from about 3 600 BC. Older than the pyramids of Egypt, it has the shape of two clovers, one with five leaves (the southern temple), the other with four (the northern temple), both surrounded by a common wall. The outer walls, made of monumental blocks sometimes up to 6 m high, had to be shored up because they were in danger of collapsing. It is not known how these blocks could have been brought here, but it seems unlikely that they could have been lifted, without special devices, even by several individuals. According to a legend, the giant Sunsana, who gave her name to the temple, would have carried them on her head from the cliffs of Ta' Cenc, 180 m high. Today, the visit of the temple is all the more pleasant as the panorama covers a large part of the island.
Sporty friends, warm up!
Gozo, smaller and wilder than Malta, is ideal for hikes, often short but spectacular. So don't hesitate to walk along the coastal paths, through the small valleys that are still wild or through charming sleeping villages. And that in all seasons! Because if the sometimes steep relief can represent a difficulty on a summer afternoon, in the evening the temperature is ideal. When the climate is more humid, the landscape is draped in green and it is even more beautiful. Finally, Gozo can also be transformed into a land of adventure for the most courageous who will tackle the numerous walls for climbing sessions or abseiling
Beyond this terrestrial heritage, the island also conceals many underwater wonders. With its crystal clear and never cold water, it is possible to dive all year round. In winter, there are fewer tourists, and you can find a greater variety of fish. In summer, the water temperature allows you to go without a wetsuit. And if the destination is so popular with divers, it is mainly because of its wrecks. Moreover, in Dewjra, the Blue Hole has been elected several times "best diving site in the Mediterranean". Once explored, it will be time to tackle the many underwater caves, crevices and other tunnels.
Handicrafts or sweets, let yourself be tempted..
To bring back some sweets to France, go to the Citadel and its gastronomic stores offering cheeses, honeys, nougats and wines, including the typical cittadella. Through the open doors of some other shops, you can see women busy with lace work. Gozo is also famous for its crafts. Near the small chapel of San Giuseppe, a pretty old house displays interesting objects, including weapons and traditional tools. Close to the bastion, in a side street, jewelers, lace makers and candle makers have set up shop
Festivities and rest
The small island offers a variety of festivities. Every year, on August 15, the statue of the Virgin Mary leaves the cathedral and, carried by a dozen men, goes around Victoria. A celebration not to be missed. Between mid-May and mid-September, each village organizes its own festa, its patronal festival. Unless you prefer to go there for the end of the year festivities, always celebrated with great pomp.
Finally, when it's time to go to bed, it's easy to find a bed thanks to the wide variety of accommodations, from small family pensions to luxury hotels. But one of the characteristics of Gozo is the large number offarmhouses for rent. Whether new or restored, they are often equipped with a swimming pool and their architecture is the only reminder that it was once a farm. Spending a night in one of these farmhouses is a must to enjoy the extraordinary natural heritage of Gozo.
When to visit? Gozo can be visited at any time of the year, as the weather is pleasant all year round. If spring, summer and autumn are preferred for swimming, winter is ideal for walking
How to get there. Malta is 2h30 from Paris by plane and Gozo is 30 minutes by boat from the Maltese coast with the Gozo Channel company
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