Saturday, December 31, 2011

Gozo, Malta

Gozo is Malta's second largest island, about 1/3rd the size of the big island, and home to 31,000 people. It's about a 30-minute ferry ride from Malta to the Gozo port city of Mġarr. Gozo is a great place to drive around and check out all of the sites.

The Ġgantija Temples are considered to be the oldest free-standing structures in the world. They are more than 5,500 years old and are designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. I liked the temples on Malta better. Here it just looks like a big pile of rocks.

Calypso Cave is where, according to legend, the nymph Calypso held the Greek hero Ulysses as her prisoner of love for seven years.

You can't enter the cave but from here there's a nice view of the beach at Ramla Bay.

We drove to Xagħra to visit the Ta' Kola windmill. It was built in 1725 and is the only one of the 12 windmills built by the Maltese Knights that is still in good working condition. Or at least what's what we thought but it's currently under renovation.

Victoria, with around 6,400 people, is the largest town on Gozo. The British renamed the town in 1897 in honor of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee. However, the locals still refer to it by its original name - Rabat.

In the center of Victoria is the Citadel. The Knights built the defensive stone walls between 1599 and 1603. It is one of the highest points on the island so there are some great views.

There's a 17th century Baroque cathedral. The ceiling is painted to look like the interior of a dome. I guess it's way cheaper than actually building a dome.

Three kilometers away is the village of Għarb.

Nearby is the National Shrine of the Blessed Virgin of Ta' Pinu. It's a Neo-romantic Roman Catholic church and a minor basilica. It was consecrated in August 1932.

The Ta' Ċenċ Cliffs are quite lovely. And well worth the crazy left-sided driving required to get there.

Dwejra Bay was my favorite part of Gozo because of the Azure Window, the Inland Sea and the Fungus Rock.

The Azure Window is a 50 m (150 ft) high rock arch where the sea has worn a hole through the rock forming the window. The window is disintegrating because large pieces of rock keep falling from the arch and within a few years the Azure Window will become known as the Azure Pinnacle.

The Inland Sea is a small sea lake connected to the Mediterranean Sea by a narrow tunnel through the cliffs. Around the small lake are a few boat houses.

Fungus Rock
is known locally as the General's Rock. It is a massive chunk of limestone off the coast of Gozo. The Maltese Knights used the plant growing on top of the rock to dress wounds and as a cure for dysentery. Today Fungus Rock s a nature reserve.

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