Other than Malta, Gozo is the biggest of the islands that make up the Maltese archipelago. However, it is much more rural in character, though this means that more of its natural beauty has been preserved as well. For us, this proved to be an excellent thing because Gozo’s landscape seemed to be one of its best selling points. My wife and I fell in love with its beauty, culture and all round everything.
What Are Some Reasons to Visit Gozo?
Gozo, which translates as ‘joy’, is a slow-paced charmer of an island – only reachable via a ferry from Malta – whose landscape makes for a lot of memorable sights.
Travel Tips:How to get to Gozo Island. Cirkewwa, in the north of Malta, has a ferry terminal that offers frequent crossings of the Gozo Channel. The journey takes less than 20 minutes and the standard fare for a round trip is only €4.65 for foot passengers or €15.70 if you bring a car. Official website Gozo Channel
Outstanding natural features
We were there in December, which boasted warm and welcoming temperatures. As a result, it was possible even to swim in the turquoise waters that had remained at around a comfortable 16 to 17 degrees Celsius.
Besides this, we had the chance to see the natural arch called the Azure Window, which had been made famous in a wide range of international movies before it collapsed in 2017.
To really appreciate the beauty and unique character of this island, better to stray from the beaten tourist track and explore its villages, its rugged landscape and spectacular coastline. There‘s always something to discover here, whatever the season.
I have to admit that Gozo in its entirety is excellent walking country and the island is criss-crossed by tracks and lanes. Probably trekking around the island during hot summer would be tiring, so we were happy we arrived in December when the weather is most suitable for this kind of activity.
Narrow winding streets
Meanwhile, Gozo’s structures were no less charming. For example, while its city wasn’t particularly big, it was home to numerous stone houses situated to each side of narrow streets.
Traditionally we bought Gozo hop on hop off green bus tickets to explore the island. Must say though the bus drivers can certainly drive those buses, at times you are inches away from the balconies and the buses only just fit round the single track streets. Its a bit like a roller coaster ride.
While having a tour in the hop on hop off bus there is a good chance to see Gozo’s most beautiful churches: the Cathedral and the Basilica of St George, and a statue of the Risen Christ top of famous Tas-Salvatur Hill.
Mysterious Tas-Salvatur Hill
This statue was placed here in the 1970s and sits 320-foot on the top of Tal-Merżuq Hill (now popularly know as Tas-Salvator – The Redeemer). This is a place of popular religious myth and legend.
According to tradition, black smoke was once been seen coming out of the hill and this led to the belief that it was a volcano. Some still believe this although geologists dismiss the idea as nonsense.
Another legend says that God punished the people of Gozo by engulfing the Island in darkness for three whole days. At the end of these three days a ray of light (merżuq) was seen coming out of the hill (hence the name Tal-Merżuq).
Travel Tips: If you’re travelling by car (which is advisable, though there are a few local buses) then nowhere is more than 20 minutes’ drive. But it’s good to walk, too since Gozo’s villages are best understood slowly.
It is interesting to note that Gozo is also home to megalithic structures right out of prehistory, which were particularly fascinating for us because of our shared interest in the field.
Mystery surrounds the prehistoric stone builders who left us the awe-inspiring temples of Ġgantija, believed to be the world’s oldest free-standing structure, and today a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Ġgantija temples take their name from the Maltese term “Ġgant” meaning “giant”, a name which testifies to the size and height of the megaliths from which the temples are built. To this day, locals believe that the Islands’ temples were the work of giants!
Scientific investigations carried out comparatively recently have proven that these temples have been standing here for over 6000 years. Evidence remaining shows that originally the temples had roofs that were plastered and painted. The exact purpose for which they were built is still a mystery.
The Ġgantija temples are far from being the only megalithic structures that can be found in the region, but they nonetheless stand as testament to how well ancient humans could built when they were sufficiently motivated.
Combined, these disparate elements of Gozo called to mind the old legends of Calypso, who detained Odysseus for seven of the ten years he spent trying to go home after the Trojan War.
Homer’s island of Ogygia — ‘the navel of the sea’ in the Odyssey — is thought to be Gozo. It was in a love-cave above Ramla Bay that Odysseus caroused with the honey–voiced sea-nymph Calypso. Stranded on the beach, clinging to a plank from his shattered boat, he took refuge in her arms – for seven years. The cave itself is not that striking but it does create a feeling of anticipation due to its links with Greek legends.
Between the wondrous landscape as well as the monumental scale of some of the oldest free-standing structures on the planet, the island really did feel to us like the kind of place where a nymph out of mythology would choose to make her home.
Photography © Gurcan Sarisoy
Where to stay:
It is very relaxing hotel, service is very good. The staff can’t do enough for you but still manage to stay in the background and leave you to relax in peace but still be there if needed. The room is very clean and tidy.
Main attraction is Spa section: indoor and outdoor pools looks amazing, they are heated to a great temp and you can swim outside and see the night sky. There is sauna, steam bath, jacuzzi, also plenty of room to chill out. Great food served in the restaurant.
Where to eat:
This restaurant provides great food, excellent service and is in a beautiful location. Would highly recommend.