Login

Enter the reserved area

Aren't you yet registered? Click here!

Close

Info on Towns & Villages in Gozo

#
11 May 2020 Category: Info on Towns & Villages

Fontana, locally known simply as 'Triq tal-Għajn', (the way to the spring), took its name from a bountiful spring at the bottom of the road leading to Xlendi, locally referred to as 'il-Għajn il-Kbira', (the big spring).

Fontana, a suburb of Victoria, lies downhill on the Rabat-Xlendi road. People began to inhabit the area because of this useful fresh water springs. The arched shelters were built in the sixteenth century over each spring for the convenience of the people. Inside one can still find traditional stone water tubs in which local folk could do their daily washing.

On the lower part of Fontana, on the right-hand side of the road to Xlendi, one could not help but notice the evergreen Lunzjata Valley going up to the village of Ta' Kerċem. Local farmers busy around all year long in this fertile part of Gozo.

 

Għajnsielem is a village situated in the South East of Gozo.

As soon as you enter Mġarr Harbour, while still aboard the ferry, you could not help but notice the welcoming landmarks of this harbour village. Its name originated from the water spring, around which in 1700, Grandmaster Perellos built an arcade containing public washbasins and fresh water spouts. So without any stretch of imagination, the name Għajnsielem means "a peaceful spring". According to a well known legend, the village's "founding father" Anġlu Grech had a 'vision' of Our Lady near the spring and was directed to erect a statue of Our Lady of Loreto at a specified place near the spring. The statue was erected, and later, the church followed suit.

In Għajnsielem there is Fort Chambray, built after 1749, which offered security to the inhabitants of the area. The village has a number of other historical and archaeological attractions. These include the Mġarr ix-Xini Tower and the larger Saint Cecilia Tower which is located near the main road leading to Xewkija. Near St. Cecilia Tower (built in 1618) one can still get a glimpse of the ancient chapel dedicated to the same saint and which is, reputedly, the oldest chapel on the island.

A unique Neolithic settlement, also in this outlying part of Għajnsielem, was excavated by a team of archaeologists from Cambridge University in 1987.

 

Għarb means West and this typical old Gozitan village unsurprisingly lies in the West of the Island.

It started life as a small hamlet centuries ago. You can see its ancient roots in the centre of the village where some houses have fine example of decorated stone balconies. Għarb was created a parish in 1679, a move which gave impetus for the building of a new, baroque parish church. Built between 1699 and 1729, it has an elegant facade which has been compared with Borromini's S. Agnese in Piazza Navona, Rome. This version is naturally a simpler interpretation of the style. The village square, so quintessentially Gozitan, has become the view on many a postcard. On the square is a fascinating folklore museum housing all sorts of memorabilia retelling the Islands' rural history. Għarb lies in some of Gozo's most delightful countryside, particularly at Dbiegi, the highest hill on the Island. Also at Dbiegi is a crafts village.

Within the limits of Għarb is the quaint Chapel of San Dimitri. According to legend, the first chapel was built on the cliff side by a woman whose son was freed from captivity by St. Demetrius. Also nearby is the Basilica ta' Pinu, Malta's pre-eminent shrine to the Virgin Mary. It was on this spot in 1883 that a local woman is believed to have heard the voice of the Virgin.

 

Għasri is Gozo's smallest parish and village, and one of the most traditional.

Like neighbouring Żebbuġ, with which it formed part till 1921, Għasri probably owes its name to the olive industry. The village of Għasri leads to Għasri Vslley, which ends in a beautiful tight gorge, dropping into the sea.

Għasri is home to the first lighthouse ever to be built in Gozo, known as Ta' Ġordan. The famous lighthouse rises 180 metres above sea level and was inaugurated in 1853. Its beam can be seen up to 50 kilometres away. Upon the hill around the lighthouse there are some marvelous 360 degree views of Gozo and this lures quite a lot of hikers, who challenge the rather steep path up to the hilltop.

From the Village Square, a road leads to the fabulous valley of Wied il-Għasri. On the way, there are a number of typical farmhouses, most of them available for short or long lets, as well as an old charming chapel dedicated to the Patronage of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The Wied il-Għasri area is a marvelous country walk or cycling site especially in Winter and Spring.

 

Marsalforn, meaning 'bakery harbour', is Gozo's main seaside town. During the summer, it becomes a bustling, lively resort. There is a small but pleasant sandy bank on the harbour with safe bathing and good rocky coastline towards Qbajjar which is excellent for snorkelling.

The resort has a good range of accommodation from seafront self-catering apartments to hotels. Marsalforn is characterised by its harbour-side cafes and restaurants, many serving fresh fish. The small harbour is the main port for a fleet of traditional 'luzzijiet' trawlers and smaller fishing boats. The beauty of Marsalforn is its relaxed atmosphere, even in the height of summer.

 

Mgarr Harbour - Besides being Gozo's main harbour, Mġarr is one of the most important fishing villages of the Island, providing the best shelter for the local fishing boats during the winter months.

Mġarr also boasts a modern yacht marina which hosts a large number of yachts and pleasure boats throughout the year.

The fishing port is a hive of activity throughout the year with fishermen either preparing their equipment for the fishing season or returning to harbour to sell their catch.

Overlooking Mġarr Harbour is Fort Chambrai, which was built by the Knights of St. John in 1749 and later used by the British forces. A church dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes also overlooks Mġarr.

Typical of Mediterranean fishing ports, the harbour is very well served with restaurants and bars.

 

Munxar - The village of Munxar lies to the South of the island of Gozo, between Xlendi Valley and the village of Sannat.

Wedged between the sloping sides of two parallel valleys Munxar offers some of the most beautiful landscapes in Gozo. Munxar derives from Arabic meaning bucksaw, a description perhaps of the sheer rock faces of the scenic gorge nearby which seem deliberately cut out of the countryside. The ravine was in fact a river bed in the ice age. The village itself has numerous links with the sea, although it lies safely inland. The parish church is dedicated to the Islands' most famous shipwreck, that of St. Paul in A.D. 60. Munxar only became a parish in 1957 and remains a quiet village tucked away inland from its livelier sister village, the resort of Xlendi Bay.

Also worth mentioning are the remnants of a prehistoric temple at Ta' Marziena in Munxar. However, although these temples date approximately to the Ġgantija period, they were not as appropriately excavated and could not be appreciated by anyone less than an archaeological expert.

 

Nadur lies on the hills above a fertile valley, once the hunting grounds of Grand Master Wignacourt but now the fruit growing district of the Island.

Nadur has grown so fast in recent times that it is considered Gozo's second town. The baroque Parish Church dominates Nadur's skyline and is believed to be one of Gozo's best baroque architectural masterpieces. This church dedicated to St. Peter and St. Paul was designed in 1766 . The facade and dome make it one the most grand and monumental of Gozo's churches. The village is renowned for its Carnival, which unlike the more festive occasions in other locations takes on a sombre and dark mood because of the macabre costumes. Nadur Carnival is a unique experience. It is so unique for the spontaneity and creativity of all those taking part.

Nadur also includes the coastal area of San Blas, and Daħlet Qorrot - both are small coves perfect for snorkelling. Some of the ledges and small caves at Daħlet Qorrot have been converted into boat houses and summer retreats for local people. From Nadur you can also reach Gozo's largest and prettiest sandy bay, Ir-Ramla. The craggy heights of Nadur were an excellent viewpoint to spot any marauding armies or pirate raiders. The name Nadur means 'look out' in Maltese, but the landmark Kenuna Tower was not built for defensive reasons - it was a telegraph link between Gozo and Malta.

The village has a maritime museum which houses an interesting collection of naval artifacts from the old Nadur trade of seafaring. Visiting the Kelinu Grima Maritime Museum is really worthwhile.

 

Qala is the eastern-most point of Gozo and the village the furthest from the capital Victoria.

It lies near some spectacular coastline and offers clear views of Comino and Malta. Except for a few sheltered inlets such as Hondoq ir-Rummien, a secluded bathing spot, the coastline is rocky but it offers excellent walking country. Breathtaking scenes can be enjoyed from the Qala belvedere and from the small courtyard in front of a church dedicated to the immaculate conception. This Sanctuary has been a place of pilgrimage for centuries, certainly since Norman times. The area has many sites of historical and rural interest. The coastline here has several examples of one of the Knights most bizarre weapons, the `fougasse' - a primitive mortar fired from a rock-cut shaft.

Other sites include the salt pans, the Islands' best preserved windmill, and prehistoric remains. The archaeological sites dates back to the temple period and Punic-Romano pottery sherds have been found here. A large slab, roughly the shape of a pyramid, may have been the cornerstone of a temple. It is known in Gozitan mythology as the seat of a giantess.

 

San Lawrenz is a small hilltop village near some of the Gozo's most spectacular coastline at Dwejra.

The village is characterised by 17th century houses, many with elaborately carved stone balconies. Its parish church was built around 120 years ago in baroque style. It contains many beautiful works of art by well-known local artists such as Guiseppe Cali'. The area around San Lawrenz records almost all periods in the Islands' history. Archaeological remains include another set of the Islands' enigmatic, prehistoric 'cart ruts'; evidence of a Carthaginian temple; and a Roman tomb.

From the time of the Knights comes the legendary Fungus Rock at Dwejra. Few rocks can claim such historical importance as this giant. It is home to a plant, mistakenly called a fungus, which was reputed to have exceptional healing powers. It was so prized by the Knights used Dwejra Tower, built in 1651 as part of the line of coastal watch towers, to protect the rock and guard the plant for their use only.

At Dwejra too is the spectacular Azure Window, a doorway over the sea - perhaps the most impressive of all the islands' natural scenes, and the Inland Sea, a shallow inlet with a small tunnel through the rock face as access to the sea.

The Dwejra coastline is embedded with fossils, which include the teeth of enormous shark from the Miocene period.

 

Santa Lucija - The village of Santa Luċija lies to the west of Victoria, the capital city of Gozo and right next door to Ta' Kerċem.

It is one of the greenest areas on Gozo and was once known for its fresh water springs. The church dedicated to St. Lucy, was first recorded in 1575, and rebuilt from its foundations in the 1790’s. The latest development took place in 1950. The village square is marked by a traditional stone cross. Santa Luċija (St. Lucy) is invoked by those who have problems with their eyesight. The feast day is on December 13th.

In 2008, the locality of Santa Luċija was awarded the title of European Destination of Excellence.

 

Ta’ Kercem - Although only a short distance from the Island's capital, Victoria, Ta' Kerċem is a secluded village.

Ta' Kerċem's origins are ancient: in fact, the village and the outlying countryside are home to several antiquities, and the source of much Gozitan folklore. Il-Mixta hill nearby is thought to be the site of the first human habitation of the Maltese Islands. In the village, you can see the remnants of its ancient past - an old windmill cum defensive tower; and some stone balconies depicting the oriental crescent or half-moon. The parish church is a relatively recent replacement (1851) of an older chapel.

The sister village of Santa Luċija though has a quaint chapel built in 1657. The square here is marked by a traditional stone cross. The countryside beyond both villages is breathtaking. The cliffs nearby are as spectacular as those at Dingli in Malta. The area was once known for its fresh water springs and is still the most lush area of Gozo. You can still see parts of an acquaduct built by the British in 1839 which carried water to Victoria.

The nearby Lunzjata Valley was once a hunting ground for the Knights. In the valley is the Chapel of the Annuniciation, tucked under a cliff. It is one of the most ancient in Gozo and dates back to 1347.

 

Ta’ Sannat - Even today, you may still chance across women sitting at their door steps working the bobbins, though this outdoor socialising and working has all but died out. The village leads to Gozo's highest cliffs, Ta' Ċenċ, some 130 metres high. The cliffs were important in the times of the Knights as they provided an excellent breeding ground for their Peregrine hunting falcons. The cliffs today are home to a large colony of Corry Sheerwaters; the last falcons died out in the 1980s. The cliff top is home to some enigmatic archaeological sites. The prehistoric `cart ruts', parallel tracks hewn in the rock, are so close to the edge as to defy logic. On the plateau overlooking the village lie the remains of a temple and further along are several menhirs, or standing stones, thought to be a kind of megalithic `painting gallery', the only one of its kind on the Islands. In the village itself you can see traces of its ancient origins. Several stone balconies are in Moorish style. One of the few archaeological remains from Arabic times, a grave stone, was found in the Sannat area, close to Xewkija. The village also has a remarkable number of religious niches.

 

Victoria - All roads in Gozo lead to Rabat, also known as Victoria. The village’s Citadel is visible from almost all the Island, rising steeply above the surrounding countryside.

The Citadel in Gozo owes its roots to the late medieval era, but the hill has been settled since Neolithic times. For centuries, the Citadel served as a sanctuary from attack by Barbary corsairs and Saracens. At several times during Gozo's history, these raiders took its population into slavery.

After the Great Siege of 1565, the Knights set about re-fortifying the Citadel to provide refuge and defence against further attack. Until 1637, the Gozitan population was required by law to spend their nights within the Citadel for their own safety. In later, more peaceful times, this restriction was lifted and people settled below its walls, creating the prosperous town of Rabat, now known as Victoria.

Victoria is not just the geographic heart of Gozo, it is also the centre of everyday activity. It manages to combine the bustle of its market and shops with a relaxed and sociable atmosphere. It is a great place to watch the Islanders go about their day, especially when the main market square, It-Tokk, comes to life.

Browse around Victoria's market and narrow winding streets and you'll find everything from delicious fresh produce, cheeses and wines, to antiques, craft goods, fishing nets and knitwear. The town also has a thriving cultural life all its own, with some surprising attractions ranging from opera to horse races in the main street on festa day.

All roads in Gozo lead to Rabat, also known as Victoria. The village’s Citadel is visible from almost all the Island, rising steeply above the surrounding countryside.

The Citadel in Gozo owes its roots to the late medieval era, but the hill has been settled since Neolithic times. For centuries, the Citadel served as a sanctuary from attack by Barbary corsairs and Saracens. At several times during Gozo's history, these raiders took its population into slavery.

After the Great Siege of 1565, the Knights set about re-fortifying the Citadel to provide refuge and defence against further attack. Until 1637, the Gozitan population was required by law to spend their nights within the Citadel for their own safety. In later, more peaceful times, this restriction was lifted and people settled below its walls, creating the prosperous town of Rabat, now known as Victoria.

Victoria is not just the geographic heart of Gozo, it is also the centre of everyday activity. It manages to combine the bustle of its market and shops with a relaxed and sociable atmosphere. It is a great place to watch the Islanders go about their day, especially when the main market square, It-Tokk, comes to life.

Browse around Victoria's market and narrow winding streets and you'll find everything from delicious fresh produce, cheeses and wines, to antiques, craft goods, fishing nets and knitwear. The town also has a thriving cultural life all its own, with some surprising attractions ranging from opera to horse races in the main street on festa day.

 

Xaghra - Apart from being in itself a picturesque village, the village of Xagħra is rich in historical heritage and therefore has plenty to offer to its visitors.

Situated on the north east of the capital town of Victoria, on a lengthy stretch of high ground, Xagħra is encircled by the beautiful bays. Xagħra is famous for the prehistoric sites, the temples of Ġgantija. Calypso's cave, of mythical fame, also lies within Xagħra. The present village has a more recent history. It became a parish in 1688, but the main church was only built during the mid 19th century. It is one of the most beautiful of Gozo's churches, with its richly-decorated interior, gilt sculptures, Italian marbles and paintings.

The village also has two curious grottos, Ta' Xerri and Ta' Ninu, both of them beneath private houses but open to the public. The grottos have remarkable stalactites and stalagmites. The village also has two unusual museums: a Toy Museum; and an old wheat-grinding windmill. The mill, still in working order, has been fully restored and houses a collection of agricultural and domestic artefacts from centuries past.

 

Xewkija lies in the middle between Mġarr Harbour and Victoria.

Xewkija is dominated by a huge rotunda church completed in 1971 after some 20 years building. It is Gozo's answer to the Mosta Rotunda in Malta, and it was built in similar fashion, over an earlier, 17th century church which was only demolished at the last. The dome is larger than St. Paul's Cathedral in London. The church has capacity for a congregation of 3000, the entire population of Xewkija. It was funded entirely by local donation and built mainly with labour from the village. The interior is stark and plain in comparison to the Islands' usual baroque decoration, but is spectacular for its cavernous size. A small museum houses relics and paintings from the earlier church. The village has ancient roots despite its modern image. It was the first parish outside the capital and according to legend the first place on Gozo to convert to Christianity. The area was settled by the Arabs. A remnant of Arab culture in the whereabouts of Xewkija is the renowned marble slab of Majmuna (pron. Maimoona) with an inscription in Arabic dating back to 1173. The slab is the tombstone of an Arab girl named Majmuna, who died and was buried in the area between Xewkija and Sannat. Today the Majmuna Stone is one of the most highly cherished historical treasures in our islands and could be found in the Museum of Archaeology in Victoria. The Arab influence lasted well into the time of the Knights - several balconies on 17th century houses are in the richly-carved Moorish style.

The landscape around Xewkija has evidence of earlier times. The deep, scenic gorge, known as Mġarr ix-Xini, was cut by a prehistoric river. This natural landmark leads to a small inlet which was used by the Knights as a galley harbour. They built a tower on the headland to defend their base. Today, Mġarr ix-Xini is relatively quiet bathing spot with a small, shingle beach.

 

Xlendi - The idyllic landlocked bay of Xlendi and the glorious blue green waters were for many years a haunt of artists and photographers.

The delightful sea inlet, known as Xlendi Bay, lies at the end of a deep, lush ravine which was a river bed. Until the mid 20th century, Xlendi was a small fishing port and a restful summer resort for a few locals and Maltese. The bay is now on the must-visit list of most day-trippers to the Island, but if staying on Gozo, it is a worthwhile visit. Gozo has its passionate admirers and Xlendi is , and has always been a must visit when on Gozo. Unlike Marsalforn with its resorty air, Xlendi is popular in the old sense of the word. With its precipitous sides, Xlendi is an overall beautiful place . Its watchtower commands the bays entrance, yet everybody is invited! The bathing all around the bay is possible and good fun.

The Bay of Xlendi still retains a peaceful atmosphere and is surprisingly undeveloped though there is a good choice of accommodation from apartments to hotels; most options have sea views. Xlendi is flanked by steep cliff. For some of the best views, climb the stairs up the cliffs to the right. Bathing in Xlendi is usually off the rocks along the bay with access down ladder into the deep crystal clear water. On the left side of the bay, two tiers of pathways provide ample space for both a walkway and a flat space to spread out a towel and sunbathe.

On the promontory is Xlendi Tower, built in 1650. It commands superb sea views and stands on a scenic coastline pitted with hand-dug salt pans.More recently it has very much become a tourist resort. The single beach , rocky shore and clear waters are good for swimming and the caves and rugged reefs provide ideal conditions for snorkeling and scuba diving. Some of the restaurants on the seafront specialize in local fish and succulent giant prawns.

 

Zebbug - This picturesque village, perched on one of Gozo's highest hills, offers spectacular sea views and panoramas over the Island with some of the best views of Ċittadella.

In centuries past, olive trees were cultivated on the hills where the village stands. Its name, meaning olives, recalls the fact. Żebbuġ is an ancient village. It became a parish in 1688 and its baroque church dates from 1736. As is typical of many Gozitan villages, the streets in the centre are narrow and winding. Żebbuġ is noted for a special marble quarried nearby: the material is similar in colour to alabaster and is rare because of its limited supply.

Today, the village has expanded and become a popular holiday destination for both Maltese and overseas' visitors because it offers spectacular panoramic views. A steep and scenic road leads downhill to the coastline below at Qbajjar Bay and on to the resort town of Marsalforn.