Gozo ( / ɡ oʊ . Z oʊ / ; Maltese : Għawdex , pronounced [aˤːw.dɛʃ] , [2] formerly Gaulos ) [3] [4] is an island of the Maltese archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea . The island is part of Malta . After the island of Malta itself, it is the second-largest island in the archipelago. Compared to its southeastern neighbor, Gozo is more rural and known for its scenic hills, which are featured on its coat of arms .[5]

The island of Gozo HAS long-been associated with Ogygia , the island home of the nymph Calypso in Homer ‘s Odyssey . In that story, Calypso, possessed of great supernatural powers, and in love with Odysseus , holds him captive for a number of years, until finally releasing him to continue his journey home. [6]

As of March 2015, the island has a population of around 37,342 (out of Malta’s total 445,000), and its inhabitants are known as Gozitans ( Maltese : Għawdxin ). It is rich in historic locations such as Ġgantija temples, which, along with the other Megalithic Temples of Malta , are among the world’s oldest free-standing structures. [7]

The island is rural in character and, compared to Malta, less developed. It was known for the Azure Window , a natural limestone arch that was a remarkable geological feature, until its collapse in 2017. The island has other notable natural features, including the Inland Sea and Wied il-Mielaħ Window . There are many beaches on the island, and the most popular being Marsalforn and Xlendi . Gozo is one of the top diving destinations in the Mediterranean and a center for water sports. [8]


Gozo has been inhabited since 5000 BC, when farmers from nearby Sicily crossed the sea to the island. [9] Due to the discovery of similar potencies found in the Għar Dalam phase , it has been suggested that the first colonists were specifically from the area of Agrigento ; however, it is currently unknown exactly where in Sicily the farmers came from. They are thought to have first lived in the cellars on the outskirts of San Lawrenz . [9]

Gozo was an important place for cultural evolution, and during the neolithic period the Ġgantija temples were built; They are among the world’s oldest free-standing structures, as well as the world’s oldest religious structures. The temple is name Maltese for “belonging to the giants”, because legend in Maltese and Gozitan folklore says the temples were built by giants. [7] Another important Maltese archaeological site in Gozo, which dates back to the Neolithic Period, is the Xagħra Stone Circle . Also, native tradition and some ancient Greek historians (notably Euhemerusand Callimachus ) maintain that Gozo is the Homer island as describedOgygia , home of the Calypso nymph . [10]

In July 1551 Ottomans under Sinan Pasha and Dragut invaded and ravaged Gozo and enslaved most of its inhabitants, about 5,000, bringing them to Tarhuna Wa Msalata in Libya , their departure port in Gozo was Mġarr ix-Xini . The island of Gozo was repopulated between 1565 and 1580 by people from mainland Malta, undertaken by the Knights of Malta . [11]

The history of Gozo is Strongly coupled with the history of Malta , since Gozo has-been-governed by Malta Throughout history, with the brief exception of a short period of autonomy Following The uprising Against the French Forces after-Napoleon’s conquest of Malta entre 28 October 1798 and August 20, 1801. [11]

The Gozo Civic Council was set up as a local government in the island of Gozo on 14 April 1961, the first experiment in civil local government in Malta since the French occupation of 1798-1800. The law authorizes the Council to raise taxes, but it never actually uses this power. In 1971 the Malta Labor Party was voted into office. It has been promoted in the past by the Government of the United States, and it has been proposed to the Council of Ministers of the United States. In the Gozo Civic Council referendum, 1973 , the overwhelming majority of voters (76.97%) voted for the abolition of the Gozo Civic Council. [12]

In the mid-1980s, the Gozo Committee was chaired by the Prime Minister and the Gozitan Members of Parliament . However, it was only in 1987 that the Ministry of Gozo was set up (1996, 1998). Local government in the Gozitan localities with local councils in 1993 with Gozo having 14 councils. [13]


The island has its own Latin bishopric, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Gozo , the only suffragan of the Metropolitan Archbishop of Malta . Gozo contains a large number of Catholic churches. The Rotunda of Xewkija , in the village of Xewkija , has a capacity of 3,000, sufficient for the entire population of Xewkija village; its dome is larger than that of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. The church bells are rung daily for the canonical hours Matins, Lauds, Terce, Sext, None and vespers. The most famous church on the island is the sanctuary of Ta ‘Pinu , near the village of Għarb , in the west of Gozo. [14]

Connection between Malta and Gozo

In the past, there were various options for reaching the island. [15] similarly, a helicopter service which is connected to the two ceased operations in 2006. [16]

By ferry

Visitors can currently reach the island by ferry. There are regular crossings entre le Port of Mġarr we Gozo and Cirkewwa on the north-west coast of Malta. The Gozo Channel Line makes the trip every 45 minutes during the summer. A return journey costs € 4.65 and takes around 25 minutes each way. The service is used by tourists and commuters (including Gozitan students who are studying at the University of Malta ) and is also used to transport goods between the islands. Each year, the road is used by around 1.1 million cars, and many more passengers. [17]On arrival at Mġarr, visitors can take one of the ‘Hop On Hop Off’ buses, which depart from the ferry terminal and operate on a timetable. Public nozzles, taxis and hire cars are also available. [18]



Several proposals have been made to build a road between Malta and Gozo. In 1972 [17] the newly elected Labor Lawyer made it possible to have a feasibility study, but would have negative environmental effects. A tunnel was also considered, but found to be too expensive at the time. [19] An online poll by The Times of Malta in 2006 found that 55% of respondents supported a road link. [20]

In June 2013 a “mega Chinese state-owned company [China Communications Construction Corporation Limited] will finance a € 4 million study to assess the feasibility of a bridge between Malta and Gozo.” “Gozitans have to say.” [21] “Gozo Minister Anton Refalo alluded to the possibility of calling a referendum to determine whether Gozitans prefer a tunnel or a bridge to connect Malta and Gozo” [22]

The study found that the bridge would cost $ 1 billion. Apart from this, operation and maintenance costs are estimated at € 4 million every year – China Communications Construction Corporation Limited is proposing to build the bridge by 2020. [23] [24]

The idea of building a bridge is Opposed by environmentalists and NGOs Such As Din l-Art Helwa and Flimkien għal Ambjent Ahjar. [25] [26]

An 11-km underground Sub seabed tunnel has been proposed in a report on the viability of a Gozo-Malta tunnel link by the Gozo Business Chamber (GBC) together with Malta Transport (TM). The Gozo Business Chamber is organized by Gordon Cordina, of the detailed report of the feasibility of a Gozo – Malta Subsea Tunnel. [27] In 2015, members from the GBC together with representatives of TM also visited Norway, where they spoke with experts, and toured several underwater tunnels. [28]

In December 2015, a group of students joined forces to create ‘Front Favur il-Mina’ to support permanent connectivity, tunnel project between Malta and its sister island. Several Members of Parliament endorsed the group. [29] A catamaran service (fast ferry) to Gozo, ferry trips from Grand Harbor and ultimately a tunnel linking Malta with the sister island, are the main proposals pushed forward by the pressure group. [30] Addressing a conference in Gozo organized by the pro-tunnel movement, Muscat said the government intends to move forward with a project linking the two islands. Moreover, Opposition leader Simon Busuttil confirmed during the same conference, that the PN is in favor of the project and willing to cooperate with the government. [31]

The University of Malta, with a proposed sub-sea tunnel between Malta and Gozo following an agreement with Transport Malta. And seismic measurements, bathymetric mapping, and a seismic study. The University of Malta conducted a marine study of a geological model of topography, stratigraphy, structure, geological, geophysical and tectonic properties of the study area. [32]During this phase of the study, scientists deployed a 300-meter-long cable with a series of specialized receptors. An ‘air gun’ released bursts of compressed air every few meters. The compressed air was reflected back to the receivers. Different geological layers reflect back different frequencies. Scientists can thus determine the geological formations that lie beneath the surface and determine possible cracks. Following such tests, will be carried out, these will consist of a series of boreholes, up to 200 meters below the surface. [33]


“Expressions of interest have been issued for a fast catamaran service between Gozo and Valletta as well as between Gozo and Sicily.” In June 2013, the services would be intended for use by both tourists and Maltese. [22]


An airstrip on Gozo was proposed in the 1990s, but rejected for environmental reasons. [19] In June 2013: “The government intends to issue a call for expressions of interest for the operation of Malta and Gozo.” [34]

Getting around

On foot

Many of the distances within villages are negligible and most of the roads are fairly quiet and pleasant to walk along. There is also a footpath network, though the paths require a good footprint (they are not always clearly marked on the ground). There are longer distances between different villages, ranging from 1 to 5 km (1 to 3 mi) from one village to the next. [35] One can also walk the whole circumference of the island (around 55 km). A local legend says that a Gozitan rambler planted Spanish Vetch (Ġulbiena heap-serp) all along the footpath so that hikers will not get lost. He also visited the Qormi valley and Gnejna area.

By public bus

The bus system is run by Gozo in Malta Public Transport Services Ltd .

Though Arrived to Work in Gozo and Malta, in January 2014, their old vehicles are still being used and most roads remain the same, but there are some amendments and additions. The most noticeable change at the moment is that the difference between resident and non-resident is $ 1.50 for the same ticket in winter, the other fares apply for the Tallinja Card holders. [36]

By car

“You need to be over 18 years old and hold a valid driving license. ” [37]
Source: Gozo – Car Hire – Visit Gozo. Text is directly quoted.


A hop-on hop-off bus service operates in Gozo. The open top bus tour of Gozo starts from the harbor of Mġarr and there are ‘Hop on and Hop off’ stops along the route. [38] In Gozo, there are 2 hop-on hop-off providers, Gozo City Sightseeing and Gozo Sightseeing. Both offer a tour service link various places of interest on the island. Each tour includes an audio commentary in 16 languages ​​and each tour takes 45 minutes. [39]


In 2005, the island had a population of 31,053, of which 6,414 lived in its capital Victoria . As of March 2014, the population has increased to 37,342. [40] The crude birth rate was 7.93, much lower than that of 9.59 for Malta. The town with the highest birth rate is San Lawrenz (15.93) and that with the lowest is Xewkija (4.89). [41]


Gozo is famous for its character and places of interest. Some of these include the Calypso Cave and the Neolithic Ġgantija temples which are among the oldest surviving man-made structures. [42]

Gozo covers 67 square kilometers (26 sq mi) Approximately la même area as New York City ‘s Manhattan island. It lies about 6 kilometers (4 mi) northwest of the nearest point of Malta, and is 14 kilometers (8.7 mi) long and 7.25 kilometers (4.50 mi) wide. [43]

Notable beaches in Gozo include San Blas and the beach at Ramla Bay . [44]

Culture and traditions

Gozo is known for its “Karnival” (carnival). Feasts, known as ‘Festi’ are important traditions on the island and are held in honor of the patron saint of each village throughout the summer months. The celebrations include religious ceremonies, fireworks and live band music and some feature horse racing, concerts and in the seaside village of Xlendi, a highlight is a greasy pole competition over the water. The capital of Gozo, Victoria, also known as Rabat, has two Festi – for St. George in July and for Saint Mary, celebrated on August 15th – a National Holiday for the Maltese Islands. [1]. Gozo’s unique carnival atmosphere during the weekend of the various festi in the villages, many Maltese and foreigners. In the past, the local Festa afforded a time for young Gozitan men and women to meet, and many of those meetings resulted in formal courtship and subsequent marriage. In the village of Nadur many locals dress up in colorful and also outrageous costumes with the intention of not being recognised. [45] [46]

Some of Maltese dishes or variants are associated with Gozo. Gozo is so known for its local cheeselet. [47] [48]

Gozo has two opera houses. Astra and Aurora are owned by rival band clubs, which both trace their founding to 1863. For over a century they have been one-upping each other in everything from musical performances to feast-day celebrations. Once, when Aurora heard rumors that it was planned to bring a horse to a performance of Aida , the competing house-which was presenting its own Aida -secretly cast two horses. Some locals on the island compare the rivalry to an arms race. [49]


The island of Gozo also has its own national football team . Because it is a part of Malta and is not a member of the NF-Board . Gozo FC used to represent Gozo in the Maltese League, while a Gozo Football League is also maintained. Football on the island is managed by the Gozo Football Association . In Gozo one can also find a rugby club. The Gozo Rugby Club opened in 2011 and nowadays, compete in the Malta Rugby Union Football and Malta Rugby League competition. [50]


Gozo was used to depict “Resolution Island” in the 1953 Single-Handed film , based on CS Forester’s book Brown on Resolution . For much of the movie, the German raider Essen (depicted by HMS Manxman ) is holed up in the semi-circular Dwejra Bay, behind Fungus Rock on the west coast of Gozo, and there are several scenes set among the desolate limestone cliffs above the bay Able Seaman Brown single-handedly detains the German ship until her pursuers can catch up with her. [51]

In 1969, Anthony Newley directed the beach scenes of his flawed Can Heironymus Merkin Ever Forget Mercy Humph and Find True Happiness? starring Joan Collins at Ir-Ramla Bay. [52]

In 1978, Kevin Connor’s Warlords movie of Atlantis starring Doug McClure was shot in Marsalforn Bay. [53]

Two days of shooting in Gozo’s strong Mediterranean light provided shots used to represent the desolate surface of the alien planet in the 1981 British horror film Inseminoid . [54]

In 1981, parts of Episode 7 from Brideshead Revisited were filmed on the island, particularly in the village of Kercem, to depict Fez in Morocco . [51]

Gozo was the location for Calypso’s island in the 1997 Hallmark miniseries The Odyssey based on Homer’s epic poem. [55]

Dwejra was one of several filming locations in the Maltese Islands used for the 2011 HBO TV series Game of Thrones . [56]

The film titled By the Sea , starring Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt was partially filmed at Mġarr ix-Xini from August to November 2014. [57]

Local councils

The following is a list of local councils in Gozo: [58]

Local council [59] Area [60] Population (2014) [61] Pop. density
Fontana 0.5 km² 985 1,970 / km²
Għajnsielem 4.4 km² 3,200 727 / km²
Għarb 4.6 km² 1,539 335 / km²
Għasri 5.0 km² 525 105 / km²
Kerċem 5.5 km² 1,938 352 / km²
Munxar 2.8 km² 1,454 519 / km²
Nadur 7.2 km² 4,509 626 / km²
Qala 5.9 km² 2,284 387 / km²
San Lawrenz 3.6 km² 748 207 / km²
Sannat 3.8 km² 2,117 557 / km²
Victoria (Rabat) 2.9 km² 6,901 2 380 / km²
Xagħra 7.6 km² 4,886 643 / km²
Xewkija 4.5 km² 3,300 733 / km²
Żebbuġ, Gozo 7.6 km² 2,956 389 / km²
Total 67.1 km² 37,342 557 / km²

Notable features

The following is a list of notable features in Gozo: [62]

  • Santwarju tal-Madonna ta ‘Pinu
  • St George’s Basilica
  • Rotunda of Xewkija
  • Inland Sea
  • Fungus Rock
  • Ramla Bay
  • Fontana Springs
  • Gozo FA
  • Traditional Saltpans
  • The Citadel (Cittadella)

See also

  • Gozo Region
  • Malta lunar sample displays
  • Gozo Farmhouses


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