One of the major events in Gozo this year was the inauguration of the newly restored Ċittadella. Inhabited since the Bronze Age, this fortified city was undoubtedly chosen for its strategic location. On a hilltop and in the centre of the island, this place has provided shelter to the Gozitans over and over again, who during the marauding attacks would run to the shelter behind the walls with their families and livestock.
Today the Ċittadella has regained its majestic peace and tranquillity and if you have not yet visited then this is one thing to plan for.
1. The Gozo Citadel Visitor Centre
The best place to start is the Visitor’s Centre, a new place that is providing an audio-visual presentation about the Cittadella. The presentation is very informative and can be appreciated by visitors of different ages. There’s nothing to stop you from visiting as the place is very accessible and there is no entrance fee.
2. The Bastions and the Panoramic Views
One the greatest features of the Cittadella are the fortified walls and the bastions. As you walk along the streets you can appreciate the narrow winding and cobbled streets but once on top, you can enjoy the panoramic view of the Gozitan hills and valleys. From up here, it’s easy to understand why Gozo is also referred to as the island of the three hills. Gozo’s distinctly separate villages nestled in the valleys or perched on a top of hills seem to spring out of a storybook. Sunrise and sunset from the bastions are a lavish view in full colour splendour.
3. A String of Museums
The Cittadella is also home to several museums. Each of the museums, which are Heritage Malta sites merit a special mention. One can visit the Folklore Museum housed in a medieval building. This museum presents a collection of artefacts and tools related to Gozitan traditions. The Museum of Archaeology is dedicated to the exhibits from Gozo’s different periods from prehistory to early modern times. On the other hand, Gozo’s Nature Museum presents different geology specimens along with samples associated with local ecosystems. Finally, there’s the Old Prison, which is the oldest prison in Gozo and you can check out the wall graffiti that past inmates have left on the centuries-old walls.
4. The Gozo Cathedral & The Cathedral Museum
If you are at the Cittadella, do check if the Cathedral is open. If it is, pop in for a visit. The church whose origins date back to 1697, is an example of fine baroque architecture. One very interesting feature is the trompe l’oeil, a painting on the ceiling which gives the illusion of a false dome. The Cathedral also houses the magnificent statue of the Assumption of Our Lady, a statue that dates back to 1897 and which every year is carried in procession along the streets of Rabat (Victoria) during the feast on 15th August. Next door to the Cathedral is the Cathedral Museum, a museum that has a varied but very rich collection of artefacts from Doric columns dating back to the first century B.C. to paintings, coins, silverware and religious items like chalices and vestments.
5. The Ditch
The ditch has emerged as a lovely open space that we never knew existed. The area which had been derelict has been rehabilitated and reclaimed to be enjoyed and is now serving as a leisure area, here one can stop for a small rest on the benches. Apart from this, the ditch has now become a regular venue for concerts and events.
A number of lifts, stair-lifts and lifting platforms throughout Ċittadella ensure that the place is accessible and can be enjoyed by all.