THE GEMS OF
Victoria is a GEM in itself with its narrow winding streets, its quaint alleys and little squares that look like courtyards. An example is St. George's Square formerly a prime residential area and now a major tourist attraction dotted with Cafes and snack-bars.
GINA - co-owner + manager
St George Basilica is known as the 'Golden Church. It is very ornate with great artworks of famous painters like Caravaggio, Francesco Zahra, Conti and several others. It is also the most frequented temple by the Christian communities in Gozo. Masses are celebrated almost every hour both in weekdays and on Sundays. The Basilica is dedicated to St. George and the feast day is celebrated in grand fashion every year on the 3rd Sunday in July. The statue of St. George is uniquely majestic and was sculpted in wood by Cremona the Maltese master sculptor about 100 years ago. The church itself is one of the main landmarks of Gozo.
The Citadel in Victoria
Walking along the cobbled narrow lanes in the Citadel takes one's mind back to the 16th C when the Knights of Malta ruled Malta and Gozo and had to defend our islands against the Turks.
(The Knights of St. John are also known as the Knights of Malta)
Read the tragic story of Bernardo di Puo' in my Blog.
The Citadel or ic-Citadella as we know it today is yet another landmark also situated in Victoria. Our ancestors used to call it Il-Kastell and also'Il-belt' (the city). I used to hear people talk about the 'l-arlogg tal-Kastell (the castle clock) and it-Tarag tal-Belt (stairway to the city).
The Citaldel is an ancient fortress originating from prehistoric times. From time immemorial it has always served as a shelter from corsairs and sea-pirates who used to come to the island to loot and pillage especially during the night.
During the years it has been enlarged and fortified by the powers who ruled the island, the Phoenicians, the Arabs, the Romans, the Knights of St.John and recently it has been professionally restored through EU funds to the tune of 21 million Euros (?).
One of the
LUNZJATA Valley is yet another jewel within the limits of Victoria. It is a green valley with a little stream flowing all year round. As a boy I used to be enchanted in this spot among the reeds, barefoot in the cool water and making boats out of the prickly pear nopales (padded leaves) .
(Read about "How to make a boat from a Prickly Pear nopale" in my BLOG)
The presence of reeds all along the little valley proves that the terrain here receives quite an abundance of water and the local farmers grow a lot of vegetables in the fertile soil of this wonderful place.
Lunzjata originates from the time of the Knights of Malta so that the numerous carob trees are more than 400 years old. The Knights used this location as a hunting ground for turtle doves especially in April and May during the bird migration period. A pleasant walk from Victoria center to Lunzjata valley takes only about 15 minutes and along the way one can admire the lush greenery and savour the clean fresh air of the valley while listening to the delicious sound of the water gurgling along the quaint tunnels hewn in the soft rock.
Ggantija dates back more than 5000 years. These prehistoric templea are in fact older than the pyramids of Egypt, the Maya and Stone Henge in England. They are living proof that our islands were inhabited by 'intelligent' people thousands of years before the coming of Jesus Christ.
Legend has it that the temples were erected by a giant woman, indeed the name Ggantija is derived from the word 'ggant' meaning a giant. To some extent the legend corresponds to the scientific theory that the temples were dedicated to a fertility goddess. Soft stone sculptures and figurines of a very fat woman were excavated and an be seen in the various museums around Malta and Gozo.
The Ġgantija temples stand at the edge of the Xagħra plateau, facing toward the south-east. This megalithic monument encompasses two temples and an incomplete third, of which only the facade was partially built before being abandoned.
Like Mnajdra in Malta the temples face the south-east and are built side by side and enclosed within a boundary wall.
The southerly one is the larger and older dating back to approximately 3600 BC. It is also better preserved. It rises to a height of 6 mt or 21 ft. At the entrance sits a large stone block with a recess, which led to the hypothesis that this was used for the ablution ritual, the purification stage before worshippers entered the complex.
The plan of the temple incorporates five large apses, with traces of the plaster that once covered the irregular wall still clinging between the blocks
The temples are built in the typical clover-leaf shape, with inner-facing blocks marking the shape. The space between the inner and outer walls was then filled in with rubble. A series of 5 semi-circular apses is connected with a central passage. The apses contain various altars and researchers have found animal bones on the site that suggest the site was used for animal sacrifice. Archaeologists believe that the apses were originally covered by some sort of roofing probably made of dry reeds and tar or bees-wax.
The erection of the temples is a remarkable feat when considering that the monuments were constructed when the wheel had not yet been introduced and no metal tools were available to the Maltese Islanders. Small, spherical rocks have been discovered which are believed to have been used as ' ball bearings' for transporting the enormous stone blocks used for the temples.
Animal remains were discovered under the altars in the temple. Animals were offered as sacrifice to the Goddess. Was human sacrifice also practised in those dark ages at Ggantija? Read about human sacrifice in my Blog ............