You probably already know that Malta and especially Gozo are among my favorite places on Earth. Although I’ve already prepared a blog about Gozo, finally it’s time to see what’s there to check out in Victoria, Gozo’s capital city! Victoria, or Ir-Rabat in Maltese, is the centre of the island of Gozo. It’s relatively small but still there are quite a few historical landmarks. So, what are the main landmarks of Victoria, Gozo?
The Citadel of Victoria
The fortified Citadel standing on a high hill is undoubtedly the main attraction of Victoria. Make sure you have enough time to explore it because all the main sights are grouped right in here! Current citadel, as you see it, was largely reconstructed by the Knights of Saint John on the site where the Turks put the medieval walls to ruins in the mid-16th century.
I highly recommend you to start your visit by watching a beautiful installation which narrates the story of this place starting from the Stone and Bronze age and Roman era through the Ottomans and the Hospitaliers, the Knights of St.John, and all the way up to the French occupation and British rule.
Cathedral of the Assumption
One of the main landmarks of the Citadel is the Baroque Cathedral of the Assumption constructed between 1697 and 1711 on the site of the Roman temple dedicated to June, the goddess of family, marriage and childbirth (aka Greek goddess Hera). Although you can enter the Citadel for free, entrance to the Cathedral will cost you a small fee. There is also the Cathedral Museum in the Citadel as well.
Other Citadel Sights
Citadel is also a home to a few other tiny museums. I highly recommend you pop into the Museum of Archaeology, the first museum on Gozo that opened its doors in 1960! It covers the history of the place starting from the prehistoric times.
Another landmark to see is the Old Prison Museum, the real prison with the old cells where the Order of Malta held their prisoners. You can still notice their writings on the stone walls! The prison stopped being active only in 1962.
Other notable spots are the Folklore Museum and the Gozo Nature Museum.
Although the Citadel is not very big, you can get lost in its narrow streets. Have a proper look at the scenery around you when standing on the walls of Citadel. How amazing are the natural and human-made sights around you!
Tip: Gozo is famous for its lace, and we popped into a small shop inside the Citadel to buy a few samples! Those require a very meticulous work and are made by hand. Learn about other centre of lace production in Italy, Burano, too.
Independence square of Victoria
As the main square of Victoria, Independence square, or Pjazza Indipendenza, is possibly the most touristy and busy place there. But overall, it’s quite small and full of cafes and small restaurants. Highlights of it are The Banca Giuratale (the 18th century city hall) and St Jacob church.
St. George’s Basilica
St. George’s Basilica, or San Ġorġ, is a beautiful church whose Baroque facade unfortunately was overshadowed by scaffolding during our visit. It is dedicated to St George, saint protector of Gozo. The current building was constructed around 1672-1678 although numerous churches stood there beforehand. The church was nicknamed a Marble Church because of its marble interiors decorated by Mattia Preti and the dome decorated by Conti’s paintings.
Highly recommended: take a cup of coffee on the adjacent square with a view over the Basilica!
If you’re missing the vibes of civilization, head to the main street of Victoria, the Republic street. There are a few shopping malls (but don’t expect too much from them) and theatres.
What else to see nearby?
In a short ride from Victoria you can find Ggantija Temples, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, famous Salt Pans and famous Dwerja Bay! But to be completely honest with you, everything in Gozo is a short ride away 🙂
Hope you enjoyed my blog!