Ggantija Temples and Ta’ Kola Windmill
Ggantija temples are located in the south-eastern part of Xaghra, Gozo. The cultural importance of the Ggantija temples is significant, to the extent that it has been listed as one of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) World Heritage sites since 1980.
The Ġgantija Temples were erected sometime between 3,200 B.C. and 3,600 B.C., at a time when Malta was still during the pre-historical period. According to research, this also means that the Temples are much older than the world-famous sites of Stonehenge in the United Kingdom and the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt, which were erected in the 3,100 B.C. and 2,500 B.C. respectively.
As graphically illustrated above, the Ġgantija Temples consist of two temples. The one on the left is called the Southern Temple whereas the smaller one, that is, the one on the right, is called the Northern Temple. The Southern Temple, which is the older between the two temples, is made up of five semi-circular apses linked together through a central corridor. The plan of the Northern Temple is very similar to the Southern Temple, with the only difference actually being that of size.
The coralline limestone (Ġebla tal- Qawwi ta’ Fuq) plays an important role in Ġgantija as this sedimentary stone is broadly used within the temples. Indeed, the only exceptions are the doorways and altars, which are made up of porous “Globigerina” limestone (Ġebla tal- Franka). As one can also see in the adjacent photo, one can also note that, at the Ġgantija, one can find both vertical and horizontal structures.
An interesting feature found within the Northern Temple is the altar standing at the back of the temple and facing the main entrance of the same temple. The discovery of the remains of animals’ bones and the burned-wall around the said altar prove beyond doubt that the altar was used for the ritual of animal sacrifice.
Furthermore, it is also important to mention that this site was home to the discovery of the statue which symbolises a fat woman (in Maltese known as il-Mara l-Hoxna). Another interesting fact attributed to these structures is that, for decades, locals have believed that the Temples were erected by giant people (Ġġanti). This could also shed light over the origins of the name given to the said temples. The reasoning behind this belief is down to the fact that it is thought that the sizeable stones with which the temples were erected were transported via wooden beams from Ta Cenc, in Sannat. Since Sannat is situated on the other side on Gozo, many argued that normal-sized people could not manage to transport and erect such huge stones with the primitive tools available to them at that times.
Ta Kola Windmill located just few metres away from the Ggantija complex is one of the oldest windmills on the Maltese Islands dating back to the Knights’ Period.
The windmill houses the milling mechanism which is comprises of two circular hard-wearing stones located on top of each other in order to suppress the grain which was positioned between the two surfaces.
Monday to Sunday: 9:00am – 17:00pm (Last admission: 16:30)
Adults (18-59 years): Euro 9.00
Youths (12-17 years), Senior Citizens (60 years and over), and Students: Euro 7.00
Children (6-11 years): Euro 5.00
Infants (1-5 years): Free
The fee includes admission to Ta Kola’ Windmill and Ggantija Temples.
Ramla Bay is located in the North of Gozo and it is well-known as the best sandy beach on the island. Recently, the bay was placed 21st out of 50 best bays in the world according to a popular British daily paper.
With its unique reddish soil and blue seas, it is a must for all visitors to visit the bay during their holiday.
The sandy beach is the biggest beach on the island of Gozo where here tourists can truly relax and forget about the daily routine. Here, kids will have the opportunity to build castles on sand while the other members of the family can bask in the Maltese sun.
Local operators are available for those persons who want to hire umbrellas and sunbeds or other beach equipment. Also, restaurants are available for those persons who want to take a light snack or taking a local beer. Other facilities include public toilets, lifeguard service and also the service of the local boat operators for those persons who want to take a banana or crazy cow rides in the area.
Dwejra and Azure Window
Although Dwejra lost one of the Maltese Island main natural landmarks, the Azure Window, Dwejra houses other visitor attractions including The Fungus Rock, The Inland Sea, The Blue Hole and also The Dwejra Coast Watch Tower.
The Blue Hole is well-known with local and foreign divers as this area is the best diving spot on the island of Gozo. This spot houses a large number of different species of fish and sea plants. It is for you to discover the area. At the entrance of Dwejra, one can notice the Dwejra Coast Watch Tower where the main aim of this watch tower was to guard the area against the attacks from the sea. In the year 1873, the tower becomes unused and was abandoned till the year 1997 where Din L- Art Helwa takes the responsibility to restore and save the tower. Nowadays, the opening hours are from Monday to Friday from 9:00 to 15:00, and on weekends and public holidays from 12:00 to 15:00. The tower is open when the flag is hoisted.
The Fungus Rock known as “Il Gebla tal-General” is a small islet, located at the entrance of Dwejra Bay. During the Knights of Malta period, this tiny rock houses an unattractive fungus plant. It is thought that this plant have the ability to cure many medical conditions. In order to safeguard the plant at that time, access to the tiny rock was strictly not allowed.
Other main attraction found in Dwejra Bay is the Inland Sea. The Inland Sea is a lagoon surrounded by cliffs. A one hundred metre tunnel connects the Inland Sea to the open sea. Tourists who are visiting the spot have the possibility to take a boat trip provided by local fishermen as the tunnel is large enough for small boats to navigate. There are two types of boat trips which are the fifteen minutes trip where the trip takes you through the tunnel and to the Azure Window and the thirty minutes trip where the trip takes you through the tunnel, to the Azure Window and also visiting the Fungus Rock.
It is an ideal spot for people who want to sit and watch the unique scenery. Snack bars are available for those persons who want to take a quick snack or sip a coffee.
If you are an energetic person, you can either swim in Inland Sea or attempt to climb the cliffs. It is also a popular spot for divers.
It is also a popular spot to watch the Maltese sunset.
How to get there: One can take Bus Number 311 from Victoria. Furthermore, one can also go by a private car.
Wied il-Mielah Window
The Wied il-Mielah Window is located at the end of the valley Wied il-Mielah, limits of the picturesque village of Gharb. Many people believe that the limestone natural arch of Wied il-Mielah is becoming more well-known after the Azure Window collapsed after a heavy storm last March.
The area is less accessible than the Dwejra arch was. In fact, one shall go by walk to the Window to discover this new gem.
This area is also ideal spot for walks where one can witness the exceptional natural beauty of the Gozitan landscape.
How to get there: One can take Bus Number 312 from Victoria to Gharb Main Square (Where the parish church of the locality dedicated to the Visitation of Our lady to St Elizabeth is located). From here, one shall walk to Wied Il-Mielah Window via Triq Frenc tal-Gharb, Triq il-Blata and Triq ta’ Wied il-Mielah.
Mgarr ix-Xini is located in the outskirts of the village of Sannat. The rocky-beach is well-known for its beautiful crystal waters and snorkelling. It is also renowned for diving as this location possesses a lot of marine life and it is perfect for underwater photography.
This area is also an ideal spot for adventurous rock climbers.
Furthermore, in 2014 the beach attracts foreign movie producers to shoot scenes for the romantic drama movie “By the Sea” starring Angelina Jolie Pitt and Brad Pitt.
How to get there: One can go either by a private car or else by walk.
Calypso Cave is located in Xaghra and overlooks the red sands of Gozo’s finest beach, Ramla Bay. Calypso Cave offers expansive views of Ramla Bay and the surroundings.
A legend associated with this place is the following:
The legend states that due to unsuitable weather conditions, Odysseus’s ship ran aground on a bay on the island of Ogygia (it is thought that this island is the island of Gozo). Suddenly, he noticed a cave located at the very top of a hill where beautiful women were dancing at the entrance of this cave. The explorer went up to witness what is going on and at this time Calypso appeared.
Due to the fact that Calypso was a beautiful nymph woman, Odysseus was drawn to her as she sang her enchanting song. Odysseus wanted to stay with her as she promised him immortality and that they will together conquer Ogygia. However, sometime later Odysseus realised that he was missing his wife Penelope and he wanted to leave Calypso in order to return back to his wife.
But, Calypso refused to let Odysseus to leave as she kept him prisoner for seven years until the gods forced Calypso to let Odysseus to go. She guided Odysseus to construct a raft in order to go back.
Finally, the legend ends by Calypso watching Odysseus sailing in the distance, while, in the meantime she sang her enchanting song.
How to get there: One can go by a private car or else by walk.
Ta’ Pinu National Shrine
Once you are in Gozo, a visit to Ta’ Pinu National Shrine is a must. The church dedicated to Our Lady of Ta’ Pinu is very fascinating as one can witness a large number of paintings and stone sculptures. In fact, the church hosts six mosaics and also several coloured windows. The steeple is approximately sixty metres high.
Furthermore, the site is well-known for pilgrimages who wish to pray or simply admire the rich architecture of the place. One can also note the devotion of the Gozitan, Maltese and also of foreigners expressed on items including helmets, casts, photos, baby grows hanged on the wall at the back of the sanctuary as offerings from promises attended by Our Lady of Ta’ Pinu.
In 1990, Pope John Paul II visited Ta’ Pinu church where he celebrated a mass there.
Visitors can also visit L –Gholja tal-Ghammar area, which is located opposite of Ta’ Pinu Sanctuary. The area hosts a number of statues depicting the episodes from the Passion of the Christ. Numbers of pilgrimages are organised in particular during Lent.
Other interesting fact is that the road leading to the Ta’ Pinu National Shrine hosts a set of five frescoes representing the Mary Help of Christians, Mary Refuge of sinners, Mary Health of the Sick, Mary Queen of the Family and also Mary Queen of Peace. One can stop for a prayer or reflection on the way to the Sanctuary.
How to get there: One can take Bus Number 308 from Victoria. Furthermore, one can also go by a private car.
Monday to Sunday: 6.30am-12:15 pm and 15:30pm-19:00pm.
Admission is free of charge.
Ta’ Dbiegi Crafts Village
Gozo is well-known for its home-made crafts and creativity. The crafts village, which is situated on the way to San Lawrenz, have numerous individual local shops scattered around the complex. When visiting the Crafts Village you can assist for demonstrations including how lace, home-made pottery, glass blowing and also leather items are done.
It is the ideal place to buy a local souvenir for your family or relatives.
Monday to Saturday: 9:30am-17:00pm.
The picturesque bay of Xlendi is located in the south-west of Gozo and is popular for swimming, snorkelling and also for diving. A number of diving centres are located in the area as Xlendi with its reef formations make this bay the number one for diving. The bay is a typical fishing village and hosts number of bars, well- known restaurants and also snack-bars. On the way to Xlendi, there is also La Grotta discotheque which is well-known for its scenery. It mainly opens between June and October.
One can rent a boat or book a trip from the boat operator available for those persons who wish to go around the beautiful bay of Xlendi and the surroundings.
Xlendi offers the possibility for visitor to experience the Gozitan sunset
A small watch tower which is one of the oldest free-standing coastal watch towers on the island of Gozo is located in Xlendi Bay. It was constructed in 1650 during the period of the Grand Master Lascaris. The main aim of the watch tower was to defend Xlendi Bay from any pirates and quarantine evaders. The Tower which served till 1871 was equipped with two 6-pounder iron guns. Nowadays the tower dominates Xlendi bay. On the way to visit the Xlendi Tower, one shall observe the beautiful scenery of the Kantra Valley.
How to get there: One can take Bus Number 306 from Victoria or Bus Number 330 also from Victoria. Furthermore, one can also go either by walk or by a private car as parking facilities is available in the heart of Xlendi.
The Citadel or as also known by locals as Citadella is situated in the capital city of Gozo, Victoria. It is built on one of the several flat-topped hills in Gozo. Studies conclude that this fortification was constructing in the Bronze era, exactly in 1500 BC. Nowadays, Citadel is a recommended place in Gozo as it offers historical and architecture building such as the Old Courts of Law and the Old Governor’s Palace, which are the official buildings for law in Gozo.
Moreover, there are several museums documenting different facts of Gozitan history such as the Museum of Archaeology, Folklore, National History, Cathedral Museum and the Cathedral Church itself.
Gozo’s Cathedral is dedicated to the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Santa Marija). The feast is celebrated on the 15th August. The Cathedral is a baroque structure and it is very hard to convince first-time visitors that the Cathedral’s dome is a flat one.
Recently, the Citadel was under intensive restoration and one can experience the original Citadel entrance after the completion of the project.
How to get there: It is recommended that visitors go by walk.
Cathedral and Cathedral Museum Opening Hours:
Cathedral: 5:00am-20:00pm (all year round). No visits during church services.
Cathedral Museum: 10:00am-16:00pm (all year round); Closed on Sundays and Public Holidays. For more information you can call on +356 21556087.
An elevator is available for people with special needs.
Heritage Malta Citadel sites Opening Hours:
(Folklore Museum, Gozo Archaeology Museum, Old Prison and Natural Science Museum)
Monday to Sunday: 9:00am-17:00pm
Last admissions at 16:30pm.
Closed on 24th, 25th and 31st December, 1st January and on Good Friday
One Citadel site:
Adults (18-59 years): €3.00
Youths (12-17 years), Senior Citizens (60 years & over) and Students: €2.00
Children (6-11 years): €1.50
Any two Citadel sites:
Adults (18-59 years): €5.00
Youths (12-17 years), Senior Citizens (60 years & over) and Students: €3.00
Children (6-11 years): €2.50
All four Citadel sites:
Adults (18-59 years): €8.00
Youths (12-17 years), Senior Citizens (60 years & over) and Students: €5.00
Children (6-11 years): €4.00
Infants (1-5 years): Free
For more information about Heritage Malta sites, you can click on Heritage Malta.
Marsalforn Bay is one of the most well-known resorts on the island of Gozo. It attracts hundreds of Maltese and visitors every year in particular in the summer months.
Marsalforn hosts number of bars, wine bars, snack bars and also a selection of Gelateria. Furthermore, the bay hosts number of restaurants which are well-known for seafood platters and also other local specialities.
Other rocky beaches that one can find in the area of Marsalforn are il- Qolla s-Safra, Xwejni Bay and Qbajjar Bay. All bays are ideal for snorkelling. The area of Qbajjar is the home of the salt pans as the 350 years old salt pans are scattered around the coast.
Comino is the third largest island in the Maltese Archipelago after mainland Malta and Gozo. The island of Comino is located between Malta and Gozo and no private vehicles are available except for vehicles which offer transport service to the Comino Hotel and Bungalows. Furthermore, in Comino there are no roads, but, only pathways where you can hike.
One of the main visitor attractions on the island which is well-known for day-trippers is Blue Lagoon. It is located between the island of Comino and the islet of Cominotto. The bay is well-known for its crystal clear water and it is the ideal place for snorkelling, scuba diving or simply relaxing on the white sandy beach. Children can play safely in the shallow lagoon while the other members of family are basking in the Maltese sun.
St. Mary’s Bay is also a hotspot for visitors visiting the island. It is the ideal place for relaxation as it is not frequented by many people such as Blue Lagoon.
Built in 1618 by Grand Master de Wignacourt, Santa Marija Tower was underwent extensive restoration between 2002 and 2004. It is argued that the tower was used during the British period. Visitors can visit the notable structure on the island on Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from April to end of October between 10:30am and 15:00pm if the flag is flying. For more information you are requested to call on +356 9905 1866 or sent an email to email@example.com.
How to get there: Comino is easily reachable from Mgarr Harbour as several boat providers offer several trips to the island around the whole year.
Please note that boat providers operate subject to suitable weather conditions.
San Blas Bay
San Blas Bay is one of the smallest beaches on the island. The red –orange sandy beach is located in the north-east of Gozo. One can access the beach from Nadur. The 100 metres long bay is an ideal spot for picnics and also for snorkelling as the bay has very clear and beautiful waters. One can also admire the Gozitan countryside surrounding the area.
San Blas Bay is less crowded than other beaches on the island of Gozo. In fact, this beach is considered as the most tranquil beach on the island. This is due to the fact that visitors who would like to visit the beach must walk to the beach as the final part of the road towards the beach was closed for traffic as it is very steep.
Recently, San Blas was voted as the best beach, amongst other beaches on the island of Gozo.
How to get there: One can take Bus Number 303 from Victoria or from Mgarr Harbour. Furthermore, one can also go by a private car as a small parking is available. But, as aforementioned, the last part of the road towards the beach is not accessible for transport.
N.B. During the summer months, for those persons who want to go towards the beach by transport, a private operator is available during the day.