The hidden wonders of Gozo, Malta’s sister island

Round 80 miles northwest of the Sahara and 60 miles south of Sicily, lies the island of Gozo – an outcrop of fudge-coloured limestone surrounded by the deep blue of the Mediterranean Sea. That is Malta’s smaller sister island, simply 15 minutes away from the port of Chirkewwa on the ferry, and a paradise for walkers, scuba-divers and anybody in search of a quiet break from the primary island.

Gozo, Malta: azure sea

Gozo, Malta: azure sea (c) Zoë Hazel Thomas

A cultural mashup

Probably the most peculiar issues about Gozo is that, regardless of being simply 9 miles lengthy and 4 miles extensive, there’s a formidable variety of cultural influences right here, together with African, Italian, Arabic and British.

Arriving on the port of Mgarr on the Gozo Channel ferry, you can be forgiven for considering you had been approaching the Moroccan coast. There’s the unique vegetation, the flat-topped buildings and the solar giving the whole lot that heat glow.

Arriving to Gozo by ferry

Arriving to Gozo by ferry (c) Zoë Hazel Thomas

Then there’s the magnificent domed church tower with its faintly Arabic influences, and the previous homes stacked up towards the hillside like rickety steps.

However straight away you possibly can really feel such as you’re in England once more once you stumble throughout a rolling subject peppered with hay bales, or a classically British purple phone field.

There’s good purpose for this weird conflict of cultures: Gozo has been inhabited by practically all of them. The Romans in 218 BC, the Arabs in 870, and the British in 1800 when Malta turned a British crown colony. The Northern African influences are right down to the island’s shut proximity to the large continent – so shut in reality, that sand from the Sahara desert is often blown over right here throughout storms.

Extraordinary shoreline

Gozo is a hotspot for divers, snorkelers and swimmers. Not solely are the waters refreshingly clear, however the shoreline additionally boasts a few of the most extraordinary geographical options on the planet. Head to Dweja Bay on the northwest of the island, the place you’ll discover three of those coastal wonders all conveniently in a single place.

The inland sea

Gozo, Malta: Inland Sea

Gozo, Malta: Inland Sea (c) Zoë Hazel Thomas

The inland sea is a saltwater lagoon linked to the ocean by way of a pure tunnel that runs via the bottom of the cliff. Though it seems shallow from the floor, the slender trench really reaches depths of 25-30 metres, making it top-of-the-line dive websites in Malta. In actual fact, the well-known sea-farer Jacques Cousteau described the inland sea as one in all his ‘prime 10 greatest dives’. For non-divers, the inland sea presents a beautiful pebbly seaside and swimming on calm days.

Azure Window

Azure Window, Gozo, Malta

Azure Window, Gozo, Malta (c) Zoë Hazel Thomas

The Azure Window is a big sea arch fashioned by years of cliff erosion. The unimaginable construction towers 50 metres above the glowing Mediterranean, forming a blue ‘window’ via the rock. Sadly consultants suppose the arch is because of collapse any time now, making it all of the extra crucial to go to earlier than the nice Azure Window turns into the not-so-great Azure stump.

Blue Gap

Malta, Gozo: Blue Hole

Malta, Gozo: Blue Gap (c) flickr/Malcolm Browne

The Blue Gap is a saltwater rock-pool with a distinction: this one is 16 metres deep with an underwater arch that leads via to the open sea. Maybe not one for paddling, however in the event you’re a eager diver you possibly can count on to see an exquisite number of marine life together with octupi, starfish, moray eels and rays.

The oldest buildings on the earth

Ggantija Temples, Gozo, Malta

Ggantija Temples, Gozo, Malta (c) Zoë Hazel Thomas

Few individuals realise that Gozo is residence to the oldest man-made constructions on the planet – the 5,800 year-old Ggantija Temples. This UNESCO World Heritage Website is an academic gem, with newly constructed walkways permitting guests to wander via the extremely well-preserved ruins, and informative indicators explaining megalithic constructing strategies and different fascinating titbits in regards to the historic Gozitans who as soon as lived right here.

Mythology and folklore

There’s a small sea cave close to Ramla Bay to the north of the island that’s reputed to be the place Calypso saved Odysseus a slave for seven years in Homer’s Greek epic the Odyssey. Though public entry to the cave is now restricted, you possibly can go to a decked viewing level on the prime of the cliff that tells Calypso’s story and presents spectacular views over the purple sand seaside, which was the place the battle scene within the movie Troy (starring Brad Pitt) was filmed.

There’s a folklore museum within the previous village of Gharb, on the west aspect of the island. This ramshackle museum is full of fascinating objects present in Gozo, from a reasonably macabre horse-drawn kids’s hearse, to a totally reconstructed Gozitan bed room.

Ta' Pinu, Gozo, Malta

Ta’ Pinu, Gozo, Malta (c) Zoë Hazel Thomas

The village of Gharb can also be residence to a few of the most stunning structure on the island, together with the church of Ta’ Pinu Basilica – a rare monolith that rears from the bottom with sheer opulence. For an amazing view of this, head to the soccer membership in the course of the village the place you possibly can dine on the roof terrace for superb worth.

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