Gozo An Island's Heritage - The story of the Maltese islands dates back to pre-history when it is often believed these formed
part of a land bridge that joined Europe to North Africa. In Gozo, at Xaghra, one finds what are considered to be the oldest freestanding stone structures in the world. The Ggantija megalithic temples were built around 3,500 BC, a thousand years before the earliest pyramid in Egypt. Over the centuries, Gozo, like Malta, was ruled by the powerful nations of the time including Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans and Arabs.
However, it was the knights of the Order of St. John who left a lasting impact on the island. The oldest villages are situated on the tops of the island's hills. These were built there as a form of protection, as from this elevated position the small numbers of inhabitants could keep a watchful eye on the countryside. For centuries, the island's harbours sheltered pirates and corsairs, who often raided Gozo's farms and villages, taking its inhabitants away to be sold as slaves. At the centre of Gozo, commanding a superb view of the island, is the Citadel (Cittadella) which for centuries served as the islanders' safest sanctuary, and after the Great Siege of 1565, the Knights set about encircling it with battlements. For many years the inhabitants were required by law to spend their nights within its walls for their own safety.
Today, the Citadel stands as proudly as it ever did. An earthquake in 1693 damaged many of the buildings within its walls but, with the help of UNESCO. these are being restored to their former glory. In the Citadel one finds the island's Cathedral, a masterpiece designed by Lorenzo Gafa', who was also responsible for designing the magnificent Cathedral of Mdina in Malta. Where it stands, was, in Roman times, a temple dedicated to Juno and later the site of two churches. Today's Cathedral, built early in the 17th century, is small but graceful. Its floor is made up of a mosaic of marble tombstones and ecclesiastical emblems, while its ceiling has a remarkable trompe I'oeil painting that depicts the interior of a dome that was never built. It is a superb building. Despite the small nature of the island, there is a lot to see.
After the visit to the Citadel and its buildings, a visit around historic Rabat and its magnificent parish church, St George’s basilica, is a must. This Gozitan church was the first one to be constructed in the form of a Latin Gozo, way back in 1672, and it boasts the only Mattia Preti paintings on the island. The beautiful interior is decoated in Italian marble, vivid paintings and gold, and it also houses the first titular statue of the island that is carried in procession on the festa day of St George, the Protector of the Gozitans.
Besides the Citadel and St. George's Church, and the Ggantija megalithic temples, one finds the equally impressive Inland Sea at Dwejra and Fungus Rock, where the Knights used to collect a fungus they believed to have medicinal properties. Then there is the Azure Window, a stunning break in the rocky shoreline, Ta' Pinu Basilica which is a centre of pilgrimage, and the new church at Xewkija with one of the world's largest free -standing domes. There are small pretty villages on the hilltops and secluded places for swimming, and much more. Gozo is an island to be explored. A taste of Gozo One of the greatest pleasures when visiting any country is its local cuisine, the food and the wine. In Gozo this is particularly enjoyable because everything sold in the markets or served in its restaurants, is fresh from the fields or the sea. This is, after all, a rural and fishing community. The fields are abundant with Mediterranean produce like green peppers, aubergines and courgettes, and each day a wide variety of fish is brought in to the tiny harbours only an hour or so after the catch. To go with these are Gozo's delicious crispy bread as well as Gozo wines which are served young and chilled.
Why Gozo? Peace, tranquility, investment, stability, and rest assured you will live a peaceful life on Gozo.