Gozo's very own highlight

The award-winning Ċittadella is a magnet for visitors from all over the world
Let yourself be captivated by this historic place.

All roads lead to Rome. Wait, that’s not quite true. In Gozo, all roads lead to a very special place: The Ċittadella! The imposing building offers every visitor a rendezvous with the exciting history of the island – whether you are here for a few days or a longer holiday, the Ċittadella is a must.

Cittadella, Gozo Malta

So where do you begin to report on a place that literally has it all? Let’s start with some current news: Gozo and its Ċittadella recently won a coveted award, the Regio Stars Public Choice Award 2022, organised by the European Union (EU). This is even more of an honour when you consider that 300 proposals from all over Europe were submitted to this competition and that Ċittadella was the winner out of 15 finalists.

Regio Stars Public Choice Award 2022

As far as the background to the award is concerned, only places, projects or venues that contribute to strengthening social cohesion and are of outstanding importance in the region and for European diversity by making good use of EU funding are eligible to apply. In other words, the Ċittadella fits the bill perfectly…

The huge building has been perfectly restored over several years with funding from the European Union. If you would like to know more about the good reasons for the European Regio Star award, see the video below.  Watch the video before you go and see the Ċittadella in person…

But before you head off to Gozo, let me take you on a little exploratory tour. Here we go...

As I said before, the network of roads and paths in Gozo always leads directly to the Ċittadella. The reason for this is immediately obvious. It sits atop the highest point on the island – and from here you have the best view. In turbulent times like the Middle Ages, this was of crucial importance. Not everyone who came to the island did so with peaceful intentions. The Phoenicians of the eastern Mediterranean, the ancient Romans, they and others came and went, as did, unfortunately, various pirate raids. The sad climax is marked in the history books for the year 1551: an Ottoman army invaded the island, coming across the Mediterranean. The stronghold known as Castello, which at that time (not yet in the massive form of the later Ċittadella) stood on the highest point of Gozo, was overrun by the enemy troops. This was a terrible blow to over 6,000 Gozitans who had taken refuge in and around the castle: they were kidnapped and sold as slaves to Tripoli in present-day Libya.

Cittadella, Gozo Malta

The sad story of Bernardo De Opuo - a legend from a less than peaceful time

In the Ċittadella Visitor Centre you can watch a short film that tells not only the story of the invasion, but also the tragic end of one of the defenders. According to legend, Bernardo De Opuo decided to take a desperate step in the face of the enemy’s superiority. To prevent his wife and daughters from falling into the hands of the attackers, he took their lives and died in the ensuing battle. This sad story is also told in the film in today’s Ċittadella.

This is what we learn: It was only in the 17th century – and after the Ottoman attack described above – that the area around the former castle was developed into a bulwark in the form of the massive Ċittadella. In less peaceful times, it offered much greater protection to the population and became the central place of residence. The curfew imposed after the Ottoman attack, with the obligation to stay within the walls of Ċittadella at night, was not lifted until 1637.

Here you are at the top – with a fantastic view

Visitors to the historic complex today can climb a few steps up the narrow lanes inside to reach the ramparts. Once at the top, the strategic importance of the site is quickly understood – and a fantastic panoramic view opens up. Virtually the whole of Gozo can be seen from here. The view stretches across the deep blue Mediterranean to Malta and the third largest island in the Maltese archipelago, Comino. Comino, as you will see when you take the ferry from Malta to Gozo, has been placed by Mother Nature exactly between Gozo and Malta.

Cittadella, Victoria Gozo Malta

Well-designed museums with modern technology: a fun rendezvous with history

But let’s get back to the many sights of Ċittadella. Your tour should start at the Visitor Centre, where interactive touch screens with today’s technology inform you about what happened in the past. In the second part of the Visitor Centre there is an educational video…

Ċittadella also has three very interesting museums, all of which – including the Visitor Centre – can be visited with a €5 ticket. Number 1 is the Archaeological Museum, where you can learn all about the pre-Christian settlement of Gozo up to the glorious days of the Knights of Malta. And don’t worry about getting bored. The museums are well-done and, with a little good will, are guaranteed not to steal your time.

Cittadella, Victoria Gozo Malta

Which brings us to museum number 2 – the natural history of the Maltese islands. From the geology of the legendary islands (hint: Google Odysseus, the Nymph and the Calypso Cave on Gozo…) to the flora and fauna with the animals and plants – this museum is not boring and therefore worth a visit. Number 3: This is the Gran Castello Historic House, where Gozitan culture and folklore are at the centre of attention. How did the islanders eat in the past, how did they dress and why are Gozitans still considered to be the most skilled craftsmen? The Historical House provides answers to these questions through its exhibits. As mentioned above, the €5 ticket is available for all museums and admission can be booked online at www.heritagemalta.mt.

The Ċittadella in the capital Victoria is a Gozo highlight - but there is so much more to see and do on the island.

The Cathedral of the Assumption, Victoria Gozo Malta

Now I have to think for a moment: am I forgetting something about the inner workings of the Ċittadella in Gozo’s capital, Victoria?  Oh yes: there are also the old prisons with the scribbles of former prisoners on the cell walls – and the cathedral within the walls of Ċittadella actually deserves a separate chapter. The Cathedral of the Assumption is the episcopal church of the Catholic Diocese of Gozo, which also includes the sister island of Comino. In the ranking of what is said to be 365 cathedrals and churches in Malta and Gozo (practically one for every day of the year…), the cathedral in Ċittadella is considered to be one of the most beautiful.

But now we really have to come to the end. You will soon be visiting the Mediterranean island of Gozo in person. And not just to see Ċittadella. But also, the many pretty villages on the island. From Mġarr, your port of arrival on Gozo, to the other end of the island, where the somewhat dreamy village of Għarb is located. In fact, you’ll find that Gozo has everything you need for the perfect holiday in just 67 square kilometres.

Large and small shops, especially in Victoria, where there are also two shopping malls with a variety of stores. And, of course, there are several small coves and the large sandy beach of Ramla Bay. There are all kinds of hotels and Airbnb accommodation, such as our own Villa Marni, and a wide choice of restaurants, either on the waterfront or in the often picturesque heart of the island.

In other words, there is something for all tastes and requirements. Therefore: So long – stay healthy and see you soon!

Oh, I mustn’t forget – here are the opening hours of the Ċittadella: Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday: always from 09.00 in the morning until 17.00 in the evening. Last admission is at 16.30. Ċittadella is closed on 1 January, Good Friday, Christmas Eve, 25 December and New Year’s Eve. The €5 ticket is valid for the Visitor Centre, the Archaeological and Natural History Museums, the Old Prisons and the Gran Castello Historic House.


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Baħar is a private one bedroom airy and luxurious unit that boasts a modern and prestigious design. The unit is spread out on one floor and encompasses an open floor design connecting the kitchen, living and dining. The sliding windows allow natural light and natural ventilation to flow freely and abundantly into the open space furnished with its sleek over-sized couch. The unit boasts a balcony furnished with rattan chairs and overlooks the large communal pool and deck area where you can kick back, relax and enjoy the atmosphere…

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