Gozo is renowned for its spectacular beaches, with many locals and visitors flocking to Ramla Bay or Dwejra Bay at the first opportunity. But the island is also home to many hidden bays that may not be as well known but which are just as breath taking. Like any other island, Gozo is surrounded by water, meaning that its periphery is dotted with large and small inlets of sea that are perfect for an afternoon’s worth of sunbathing or swimming. Some of these bays have become incredibly well known to visitors, and, as is the case with Mellieha Bay and Ghajn Tuffieha Bay just across the channel, this has resulted in these beaches becoming somewhat over crowded. This, of course, is not to say that the more well-known beaches should be avoided. On the contrary, certain bays should be visited not just for their natural, majestic beauty, but also for their prominent place in history and legend. Ramla Bay, for example, is located in the northern part of Gozo, and many consider the cave just overlooking this red-sanded bay as the place where the nymph Calypso held Ulysses prisoner for seven years in Homer’s epic The Odyssey. Thus it’s an […]
The existence of Gozo’s buzzing opera scene may come as a surprise to many but, with some of the world’s biggest stars performing here on a yearly basis, the island has become an international hub for the art. Here we speak to two representatives from the island’s iconic theatres, the Astra and the Aurora, about the past, present and future of opera on Gozo. Gozo is renowned for its unspoilt countryside, its imposing fortified capital, and its slower-paced way of life. But, since the 1970s, it has also built a name for itself in the world of opera. “The first opera on Gozo was organised way back in 1977,” explains Matthew Zammit, the PRO of Teatru Astra, which is one of the two main venues for opera on the island. “It was Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, and it was performed just across the road at the Aurora Opera House. “Teatru Astra, then, produced its first operas, Rigoletto and Il Barbiere di Siviglia, in 1978. From then on, two operas have been organised on a yearly basis by the two main theaters on Gozo, and the island has now become renowned for its high-standards in the art,” he adds. But opera in […]
While Gozo’s world-famous landmarks are definitely worth a visit, it’s its lesser-known sites that encapsulate the true spirit of the Island. For that reason, we went off the beaten track to find out where these sites are and why you should visit them. Gozo may be geographically tiny but its landscape is peppered with an astonishing number of well-known landmarks, including the celebrated Azure Window and the medieval Cittadella. Yet these are only a fragment of what Gozo has to offer, and the back alleys and country lanes of this island actually shelter many hidden sites that are well-worth visiting. A history worth discovering Archeology has revealed that man first arrived on Gozo more than 7,000 years ago, back when Ggantija Temples – the oldest, freestanding stone structures in the world – were built. Since then, the Gozitans, along with many of their conquerors (which have included the Romans, the Phoenicians, the Knights of St John, and the British) have left behind reminders of a time gone by. One of the oldest examples of these can be found on the Ta’ Cenc plateau in Sannat, where deep groves can be seen lining the natural rock. These are believed to […]
If you think Gozo is only about rolling fields, weekend getaways and country walks, think again. The island of three hills offers a cultural calendar to keep your diary filled for the entire year. Any time is a good time to visit Gozo! Music, of course, is well represented on the island, with performances ranging from rock to folk to opera gracing the stage all year round. Rock, classical, and folk music RockAstra is becoming a major spring event. Organised annual around the first week of June since 2013, this spectacular rock concert features the La Stella Band and leading local singers. The concert is usually held in Victoria’s Republic Street and entrance is free of charge. If, on the other hand, you prefer the sounds of classical music, then you’re in for some serious enjoyment. The Gaulitana music festival runs for over a month, between April and May, and comes with string quartets, wind ensembles and piano recitals, as well as choirs, jazz crossovers and opera. Opera productions also grace the two opera houses in the Gozitan capital, Victoria, in autumn. The Astra Theatre and the Aurora Opera House have, between them, celebrated such operas such as Verdi’s […]
Colourful, vibrant and merry, the numerous village festas that pepper Gozo’s rich cultural calendar are unmissable. But how many are there? What do they celebrate exactly? And what are the sounds, scents and tastes you should look out for? The Maltese Islands have a long Christian tradition. In fact, it dates all the way back to AD 60; to when the ship that was taking the apostle St Paul to Rome was shipwrecked just off our coast. His legendary voyage, still marked by the Church at large on a yearly basis, saw Malta gain its first saint in Publius, our Roman governor at the time. From then on, the cult of the saints in Malta was forged, and our national and religious calendars – which, for centuries, were one and the same – marked these saints’ lives, martyrdom, and piety. Gozo’s Festas “Our first record of a religious festa is that of Santa Marija in the 14th century,” explains Anton F Attard, a festa enthusiast. “This was mentioned because it marked the end of many leases and contracts for Gozitans at the time, and the villagers were expected to pay what was due to their landowners on that very day.” […]
Ggantija Temples Where: This complex of temples dates back to around 3,500BC and is one of the oldest free-standing structures in the world, with parts of the walls and altars still intact. There is an excellent museum in the visitors centre, with ancient artefacts that were discovered on site. Go Diving The clear, warm blue waters and endless list of dive sites to choose from make Gozo a diver’s paradise. The island’s limestone creates some dramatic underwater scenery, rock formations and caves. Marine life is plentiful, and there are plenty of artificial reefs and wrecks for boat dives. The Citadel, Victoria Wander around the tiny stone streets of the fortified Citadel, the old capital of Gozo, for island views and an insight into what life was like for locals taking refuge during invasions. Inside the walls you’ll find museums of nature, folklore and archaeology, as well as a cathedral and an old prison.
By Yvonne Gordon It’s less well known and much quieter than neighbouring Malta, but Yvonne Gordon is won over by Gozo’s Mediterranean magic Clip clop, clip clop. The horses’ hooves echo along the laneway under my window. As the sound fades, I can hear a donkey braying, dogs barking and, in the distance, what sounds like goats bleating. It’s a dawn chorus – but one in which animals rather than birds are singing about the start of a new day. It’s early morning on the island of Gozo, the second-largest island in the Maltese archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea. As the air heats up, I bring my breakfast outside to the terrace of the 17th-century farmhouse, taking in the surroundings. Prickly pear trees hang over the small pool, surrounded by walls of the same golden limestone that lines the village streets. Sitting here, I can hear church bells pealing in the distance, but no traffic. Gozo is smaller and quieter than neighbouring Malta. Just four miles separates the two, but Gozo doesn’t have motorways or even an airport. It does have hotels, holiday apartments and beaches – if that’s what you’re after – but on a much smaller scale than […]