Located on the north-west of Gozo, Ghasri is considered as the smallest village on the island of Gozo with a population of 525 people. This typical gozitan village is located approximately 2.5km away from the capital city of Gozo, Victoria and it lies between the villages of Zebbug and Gharb respectively.
The name of the village is derived from the Semitic verb “taghsar”. According to Dunstan G. Bellanti, the word ‘L-Ghasri’ is related to the olive trees in Gozo as oil from the said olive trees was produced in ‘L-Ghasri’. On the other hand, Godfrey Wettinger states that it could be that the name of the village means the ‘land of squeezing’. The motto which is written on the coat of arms of ‘L-Ghasri’, “EX LABORE FRUCTUS” means “from work, the fruit”. The village’s coat of arms is made up of three olive trees growing from fertile land and also three figures depicting the machinery which they have used in the pressing of olives to produce oil.
The village of Ghasri is founded during the Punic and Roman ages. This is because evidence shows that large number of Punic tombs has been found all around the village. A concentration of five Punic tombs was found behind the hill of Gordan. Other remains of Punic tombs were found in the vicinity of a valley known as “Wied ta’ Felici” and also on the side of the main piazza in Ghasri.
The picturesque village houses number of churches and chapels. The Parish Church which was built in 1956 is dedicated to the Blessed Body of Our Lord Jesus Christ. The village feast is celebrated each year around the first week in June. The Basilica of the Patronage of the Virgin Mary which is the first basilica in the island of Gozo lies at the end of Church Street and the beginning of Wied il-Ghasri Street. This chapel was the first chapel that was consecrated in Gozo. The main altar which is dedicated to the Patronage of the Virgin Mary was painted by Francesco Zahra in 1739.
Another chapel which was blessed on 10th October, 1852 and is dedicated to Saint Publius, is found in L-Ghammar Street.
A well-known attraction with locals and visitors alike is the Gordan Lighthouse. Ta’ Gordan Lighthouse was built during the British Period in 1850s and is situated 160 metres above sea level in the north-west of Gozo, in the limits of Ghasri. It affords breath-taking views.
The lighthouse plays and important role for the defence of the Maltese Islands in particular during World War Two. The radar installed in the said lighthouse could detect the enemy attacks in advance, therefore, giving enough time for the air raid sirens to advice the people to take shelter from the assaults.
At first, the lantern was working with oil before the system was operated by the means of 21 fixed kerosene lamps. In 1962, the lighting system was changed again and had the power of 895000 candles. The light stretched out for about 54 kilometres. Another new system which is still in operation until today was installed in 1994. This system works automatically and requires less maintenance and surveillance.
Currently, the lighthouse is participating in a research on atmospheric pollution and the effect of carbon monoxide on the ozone layer. In addition, the government has started to restore the historic il-Fanal tal-Gordan and the embellishment of the whole zone in 2019.
The marvellous secluded inlet with a tiny rocky beach, Wied il-Ghasri (Ghasri Valley) is located just down the hill from Zebbug. The village of Zebbug is located next to Ghasri. This little hidden gem is well-known for its crystal clear water surrounded by natural beauty cliffs. It is also a popular spot for snorkelling and diving. Locals and visitors go there early in the morning as later on during the day, it gets very busy with people and divers.
There are about 100 steps to reach the small beach. Photography enthusiasts can take impressive pictures of the cliffs and valley during the walk. One can reach the valley by taking a walk starting from Xwejni Bay. During this walk, one can also admire the unique salt pans on the way and it finishes to Wied il-Ghasri. One can reach also the valley by hiring a bicycle, quad bike or a car.
An interesting feature in this village is the traditional niche dedicated to Our Lady of the Annunciation, located in Salvu Gambin Street corner with Church Street in the core of the village. This niche dates back to 1773 and its carvings and style of stone work is identical to the other niches which are scattered around the island of Gozo. The niche represents the Angel Gabriel announcing the Virgin Mary that she was going to be the Mother of God. The niche is a unique one as it is located on a balcony which is supported by three coloumns. According to locals, during the 18th century, during the procession held during the feast of Corpus Christae, the priest delivers a sermon from the balcony. Lately, in 2018, Ghasri Local Council together with the Ministry for Gozo has restored this niche.
The tranquil village is surrounded by open country views and distance sea views. Therefore, the village is ideal for walkers who are looking for peace, quiet and are nature-lovers. Today, Ghasri is also considered as an example of a traditional Maltese village.