About a third of the size of Malta there is a distinct difference between the two islands. Less built up than Malta, Gozo is greener and more rural. It retains an old world charm and its friendly people offer visitors a warm welcome.
Although Gozo is small, it is remarkable just how many interesting things there are to do and see. From the town of Victoria to the Dwejra Coast, the island is varied and beautiful, offering peace and tranquility in an idyll rural setting.
The town was known as Rabat until 1887 when, to celebrate Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee, the town was renamed Victoria and also created a city. Initially it was called Citta' Victoria and later Victoria but it is commonly referred to as Rabat by the Gozitans.The town has some fine squares and some good shopping but it also retains much of its old world charm. Wander off into the narrow side streets and look at the different styles of the houses. Take your time over a drink or snack at one of the many cafés around Pjazza Indipendenza and watch as the locals go about their business. Visit the main square, It-Tokk, with its little market or visit St. George's Basilica in the little square behind It-Tokk.The main religious feast of the year - Santa Marija is on the 15th August and the city celebrates with enthusiasm. If you are lucky enough to visit then look out for the horse races that are held on Republic Street and the agricultural show held in Rundle Gardens.
Dating from around 3600 BC this is the oldest freestanding structure in the world. All that survives are the walls but it is clear that these were roofed structures in the form of large caves that would have been visible from some distance. A visit to this World Heritage Site is a fascinating experience and one that is not to be missed.
This striking coastline is another must see spot on Gozo. The famous and stunning Azure Window used to stand here before the spectacular rock formation collapsed into the water. The Inland Sea, which is connected to the sea by a narrow tunnel in the rocks, is worth visiting and is a good spot for a swim. If you are adventurous enough you can take a boat trip through the tunnel out to the open sea.
The Dwejra and the Azure Window have appeared in many films and TV shows including The Clash of the Titans (1981) and The Count of Monte Cristo (2001). More recently this location provided the stunning backdrop to the Dothraki wedding scene in the popular TV series Game of Thrones.
Legend has it that Gozo is the island mentioned in Homer's Odyssey on which the nymph Calypso entrapped Odysseus for seven years. Now little more than a crevice, Calypso's Cave is worth a visit for the spectacular views over Ramla Valley and out to the bay.
Nadur is the largest village on the island. Once the most prosperous village on the island, and a favourite with Grand Master Wignacourt, it is worth visiting for the parish church. The main religious feast is that of St.Peter and St.Paul - known as Mnarja, which is celebrated on 29 June. Nadur is probably most famous for its street Carnival celebrations that are held after sunset in February each year. With parades, fancy dress and a certain amount of political satire this celebration is a unique experience.
Ta' Pinu Basilica
In 1883 a young girl, Karmela Grima, is said to have received a message from Our Lady in the small chapel on this site. In 1920 building works on the Ta' Pinu Basilica begun and it was finished in 1931. The interior is a masterpiece with sculptures and designs on stone. It is situated in an open countryside that adds even more to the majesty of the building. It is not to be missed on any trip to Gozo.
Xewkija Parish Church
Xewkija is the oldest village in Gozo but it boasts the newest and largest church on the island – Xewkija Parish Church, the dome of which is visible from almost any point on Gozo. The dome is the third largest unsupported dome in the world. Every year the village celebrates the feast of St. John, which falls on the 24 June, or the nearest Sunday to that date. If possible this would be a great time to visit this historic town.
A traditional fishing village, Xlendi attracts huge numbers in summer. It has a small sandy beach and because of its reef formation it is also popular with divers. With spectacular cliffs on either side of the bay this is a good place for a stroll before a drink or meal in any one of the good restaurants and bars along the waterfront.
The pretty fishing village of Marsalforn and its beaches are a mecca for tourists and locals in the summer. There are any numbers of boats in the bay and it is possible to go on an island cruise from here. Marsalforn is also a good centre for diving enthusiasts and in the evening there are plenty of bars and restaurants where you can sit and enjoy the views over the bay.
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