With autumn on its way and the first cold of the winter settling itself on my poor nose, I thought now would be the perfect time to sit down and remember the baking hot days and the sights and sounds of Gozo, an island off Malta.
After spending the previous day travelling and locating our villa, my family and I finally set out to explore. We made a beeline for Victoria, which is a bustling city filled with things to do and great places to eat. Your eye is instantly drawn to the imposing feature of the Citadel, which is located right at the heart of the city. The Citadel, or Cittadella, is essentially a small, fortified city designed to protect inhabitants from raiders. Although the area was first inhabited during the Bronze Age, the fortifications that can be seen today stem from the medieval period, although sadly some of it has fallen to ruin. Still, it remains a magnificent structure, and is an absolute must-see if you visit the island.
The site features several museums that are well worth a look, including one on the prison that was located on the site. Of particular interest are the hundreds of etchings and graffiti carved into the walls by those incarcerated inside. Many of the images feature ships, although handprints and names can also be spotted. When standing inside one of the cells surrounded by these remnants of the past, it can be quite an eerie experience.
A walk along the walls is also a must, because the Citadel boasts some impressive views thanks to its situation high above Victoria.
Oddly, another enjoyable experience stemmed from a wander around the silos built into the main structure. These giant storage spaces are pretty atmospheric, and if you are willing to stoop to our level, you can have great fun making use of the echoing quality of the interior. Apologies to all other tourists who may have overheard some eerie singing from the uppermost silo.
Within the Citadel’s giant walls also stands the Cathedral of the Assumption. This is a stunning example of a Baroque church, which was built in the late 17th and early 18th century. Inside are some spectacular chandeliers and paintings, and if you look up, you can see a brilliant example of an optical illusion.
If you do visit the cathedral, or indeed any place of religious significance on the island, it is best to dress modestly. Bare shoulders and excessively bare legs are not appreciated, so don’t be surprised if you are given an armful of shawls to wrap around yourself before you enter.
A ‘tour’ of the rooms beyond the main cathedral hall is available, which gives you access to the cathedral’s silver collection and other artefacts (such as a cardinal’s slippers in a box, which was gifted to the cathedral many years ago). There are also a great deal of paintings, including one of a future saint, who had her breasts cut off by her father for refusing to marry. According to the guide, this is a true story. Nice.
You can find out more about the Citadel by following this link: http://www.visitgozo.com/en/item/sight-seeing-places-of-interest/citadel-cittadella-1123/