A day in Victoria

September 22, 2017

As Gozo’s main town, Victoria or Rabat is truly a hub of activities but the town is truly much more than the island’s centre. Here are some proposals that any visitor should not miss:

  • The traditional open air market located in the vicinity of Independence square is a busy area where fishmongers along with fruit and vegetable sellers’ setup their stalls. You can also acquire traditional produce like preserved olives, capers and peppered cheeselets.  Presiding over Independence Square, you can also notice the Banca Giuratale, a circular building in Baroque style and which is the seat of the local council of Victoria. Opposite the Banca Giuratale, stands the Church of St. James on the other side.
  • The old narrow streets, in the area of St. George’s Basilica are truly worth exploring. Get your camera ready as you wander about the cobbled lanes, where old houses’ facades adorned with stone sculptures ooze out charm,  and where saints reign over streets from antique niches!

    Old cobblestone streets in Victoria
    Old cobblestone streets in Victoria
  • Whilst you’re meandering around, make sure you visit the Ħaġar Museum, a museum and cultural centre, which is located on the left-hand side of St. George’s Basilica. Entrance is free and you can enjoy a rich collection of historical and artistic artefacts along with any temporary exhibitions and events of cultural expression that might be on.

    Il-Ħaġar
    Il-Ħaġar
  • If you’re a bookworm or you’re after a dose of historical serendipity, visit the National Library (Gozo) in Vajrinġa street. This reference library which is housed in the same building as the Victoria Primary School, boasts a wealth of historical material including the the National Archives (Gozo section).  The oldest newspaper that can be found here is the Mediterraneo newspaper, written in Italian and dating back to 1838.

    National Library in Gozo
    National Library in Gozo
  • In terms of churches and chapels, Victoria is second to none. With no less than seven churches, a basilica and a cathedral, visiting each and every one of them will take you some time.

    St. Augustine Convent
    St. Augustine Convent
  • For shopping, you can follow Republic street, along which, you will find Gozo’s main shops and malls. You will discover a variety of shops, including many jewellers, several confectionaries and ice-cream shops.  Stop by and ask for ‘filigree’, which is a local artisan jewellery, usually in silver beads and twisted gold or silver threads.

    Shopping in Victoria
    Shopping in Victoria
  • If you’re in need of a great coffee, you’ll find coffee shops in all of the main streets and many also offer snacks and quick lunches. On the other hand, if you’re after just a quick bite whilst on the go, then you can drop by one of the pastizzerias or snack shops that sell our typical street food – pastizzi!

    Pastizzi
    Pastizzi
  • You might want to take a peek inside the Astra and Aurora Theatres, the two places where operas are staged yearly, or you might want to watch Gozo 360, an audio-visual experience held daily at the Citadel Theatre.

    Wandering around the narrow streets in Victoria
    Wandering around the narrow streets in Victoria

Victoria is a town which is deeply rooted in history and tradition and to ensure you’ve covered it all you need to head up to the Citadel.  A day spent in the old city will take you back in time and will allow you to understand the Gozitan way of life, characterised by a hard working community that has preserved a blissful, unrushed approach to life.

A stop at St. George's Square
A stop at St. George’s Square