24 Hours In: Gozo

An abandoned citadel, a Baroque cathedral - oh, and the oldest structure on the planet... There's more than enough to fill a day here

Now that's what I call a dome

09.00: Victoria, the capital of Gozo, is also known by its ancient Arab name, Rabat. Walk up to the abandoned citadel, the last line of defence on Gozo, and visit the Baroque Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Inside, the dome turns out to be an impressive trompe l'oeil by Antonio Manuele. It was an 18th-century stop-gap until parishioners could afford to build a real one, but Manuele's work proved so popular they never bothered. Return to the Bellusa Snack Bar (00 356 21556243) on Pjazza Indipendenza for a a cup of coffee al fresco.

Watch out for the dragon

11.00: Amble across to St George's Square for a look at the rival Basilica of St George with its splendid statue of the dragon-slayer that is carried in the annual carnival. Now there's time for one more church before lunch. You'll have seen the campanile of Ta' Pinu from the citadel. It's only a 10-minute drive to the west. Inside this remarkable church you'll find niches filled with the crutches and surgical supports abandoned by people who claimed to be cured after visiting the shrine.

Pasta for lunch in Xlendi

13.00: About time we saw the sea. Drive back to Rabat and then south down the Xlendi Valley. The row of Renaissance terraced houses on your left as you leave Rabat is where the celibate Knights of St John used to keep their mistresses. At the fishing village of Xlendi are a few unfortunate hotels and clubs but some good restaurants overlooking the sea. Da Manuel (00 356 2156 1022) offers north Italian and traditional Gozitan cuisine. Aubergines alla Parmigiana and beef carpaccio are recommended, as are the 12 different pastas. Penne Da Manuel (vegetables and fresh baby prawns in garlic) is the chef's favourite.

There's old, and there's ancient

14.30: You can't miss the Ggantija Temples (open daily 9am-5pm) Admission: adults ML 1.50 (£2.70), children 50 cents (80p). This complex is reputedly the oldest structure on the planet, built before the Pyramids out of stones weighing up to 50 tons. The temples, excavated in 1827, get their name from the local word for giant. Enjoy great views across the island or a snack at Oleander Café in nearby Xaghra.

This way to the best beach

16.30: Now for a spot of swimming. Ramla is the Maltese word for sand and Ramla Bay contains the one beach on this rocky island that is worthy of that name. Not only is the swimming good, but if you climb up to the cliffs you can peer into Calypso's Cave.

Of all the gin joints in Gozo...

19.00: For a great sundowner, seek out the most interesting pub on Gozo. Gleneagles is in Mgarr, just above the harbour inside a curious Strawberry Hill Gothic building that overlooks the Comino Channel. The atmosphere is reminiscent of 1940s Casablanca. After a drink or two with the proprietors, Tony and Sammy, go down the hill to eat. Shore Street has several harbourside restaurants, but the best lie on Manoel de Vilhena Street. Take your pick from Da Luigi (00 356 21558681) Il-Kcina Tal-Barraka (00 356 21556543) and Manoel's (00 356 21560721). Relax, the evenings are long and you'll have the comings and goings of the Gozo ferry for entertainment.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Ashdown Group: Print Designer - High Wycombe - Permanent £28K

    £25000 - £28000 per annum + 24 days holiday, bonus, etc.: Ashdown Group: Print...

    Recruitment Genius: Business Travel Consultant

    £20000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With offices in London, Manches...

    Recruitment Genius: Customer and Brand Manager

    £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Customer and Brand Manager required for ...

    Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator

    £25000 - £35000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator A...

    Day In a Page

    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
    King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

    Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

    Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
    10 best PS4 games

    10 best PS4 games

    Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
    Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

    ‘Can we really just turn away?’

    Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

    ... and not just because of Isis vandalism
    Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

    Girl on a Plane

    An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent
    Markus Persson: If being that rich is so bad, why not just give it all away?

    That's a bit rich

    The billionaire inventor of computer game Minecraft says he is bored, lonely and isolated by his vast wealth. If it’s that bad, says Simon Kelner, why not just give it all away?
    Euro 2016: Chris Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

    Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

    Wales last qualified for major tournament in 1958 but after several near misses the current crop can book place at Euro 2016 and end all the indifference
    Rugby World Cup 2015: The tournament's forgotten XV

    Forgotten XV of the rugby World Cup

    Now the squads are out, Chris Hewett picks a side of stars who missed the cut
    A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

    Britain's Atlantis

    Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
    The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

    The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

    David Starkey's assessment
    Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

    'An enormous privilege and adventure'

    Oliver Sacks writing about his life
    'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

    'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

    The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'