At 67km² (16,549 acres) Gozo is the second largest of the Maltese islands and has a population of about 25,000 people. Gozo differs from the island of Malta in that it has successfully retained its rural atmosphere. The landscape consists of flat-topped hills, steep valleys and rugged cliffs and villas that nestle among peach, lemon, olive and orange groves. In spring the island comes ablaze with the flowering hibiscus, oleander, mimosa and bougainvillaea.
Gozo has a distinct character all its own. The countryside is prettier than that of its larger neighbour, the pace is slower and there are far fewer tourists. The island has its share of medieval architecture and prehistoric temples, making it a great place to escape the tourism mill while experiencing the best of what Malta has to offer. The commercial centre of the island, Victoria, has a sleepy 17th-century feel. Some of the local crafts (lace and knitwear) are sold from the doorways of houses and on the street. The view from atop the Citadel, or ‘Gran Costello’, takes in the entire island. The Norman House, on the Citadel’s grounds, houses an interesting folk museum.
Gozo is held to be the island of Ogy’gia in Homer’s epic piece of Greek mythology, Odyssey, where the sea nymph Calypso entertained Odysseus. You can retrace the footsteps of Ulysses at Calypso’s Cave, in the cliffs overlooking Ramla Bay on the northeastern coast. Over the centuries Gozo suffered a lot at the hands of marauding Turkish and Arab pirates. Many of the inhabitants of the islands were slain or abducted to be sold as slaves.Gozitans (as the members of the island’s population are known) are now again watching carefully as Gozo is now starting to suffer from modern day invaders as more holiday accommodation is slowly built on their small piece of paradise. This will surely bring prosperity, but will it mean the end of their simple, unhurried way of life?
The waters surrounding the island are unpolluted and crystal clear. The most important beaches are Il-Qawra (better known as the inland sea, with a secluded pebbly bathing pool, crystal clear water and sheer cliffs), an unspoilt sandy beach known as Ir-Ramla l-Hamra and Xlendi Bay. In summer there are numerous festivals with fireworks and horseracing in the streets.
The economy of this island is largely dependent on agriculture, and it produces most of the agricultural goods consumed on the island group. Its geography is characterised by serene green valleys and hills dotted with pretty small villages. The tranquil, rustic charm here leaves an impression on even the most fleeting visitor.
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Place Category: Attractions