18 Fascinating Facts About Gozo
1. Edward Lear described Gozo’s coastal landscape as “pomskizillious and gromphiberous”. The Pomskizillious Museum of Toys can be found in Xaghra, a village that is thought to be one of the earliest inhabited parts of the island.
2. The island has already appeared in several films, including Single-Handed, from 1953, and Inseminoid, a 1981 UK horror.
3. Residents of Gozo – there are 37,000 – are called Gozitans.
4. Despite its small population, and tiny proportions – it is just eight miles long and four miles wide – there are 46 churches on the island.
One of the island’s many churches (AP)
5. The village of Xewkija has a population of just over 3,000, but possesses a church big enough to fit all its residents inside. Xewkija Church’s dome is 75 metres high and 27 metres wide – making it the third-largest unsupported dome in Europe, behind St Peter’s in Rome and St Paul’s Cathedral.
6. Gozo’s capital, Rabat, was renamed Victoria in the Golden Jubilee year of 1887, but the new moniker never quite stuck. Locals still usually call it Rabat.
7. The town’s St James’ Church was extended in the 20th century. However, according to Juliet Rix’s Brandt Guide to Malta and Gozo, it faced problems obtaining planning permission due to its “habit of using the church bells to drown out political speakers in the square”.
8. Azure Window – a limestone arch that has since fallen – was one of the most recognisable locations on the island. It appeared in the TV series Game of Thrones, and has gained notoriety as a cliff-diving location.
9. The island also appeared in Brideshead Revisited. It was used to portray Morocco.
10. The Victoria Cathedral museum contains a shoe belonging to Pope Pius VII, and Pope John Paul II’s gloves and hat.
11. Diving is popular here – there are more than a dozen dives accessible from the shore, including the Blue Hole and Ghasri Cave.
12. According to Homer, the Gozitan sea nymph Calypso managed to keep Odysseus enslaved here for seven years, until he escaped and returned to his wife.
13. Ggantija – a 5,500-year-old temple complex and UNESCO World Heritage Site on Gozo – is believed to the world’s second oldest man-made religious structure, after Göbekli Tepe in Turkey.
14. The name is Maltese for “belonging to the giants” – legend has it that the structures were built by mythical beings.
15. The first settlers here sailed from Sicily, perhaps coming from the area around Agrigento. That influence has lasted some time – although Gozo is Maltese, the food is distinctly Italian.
16. Fungus Rock, just off the coast of Dwejra, is known for having grown a rare plant – known as general’s root – which was touted by the Knights of Malta (who ruled the island from 1530 to 1798) as a cure for ailments including dysentery and impotence.
17. Several proposals have been made to build a bridge, or even a tunnel, linking Gozo with Malta. A Chinese firm was hired to carry out a feasibility study last summer. There is no airport on the island.
18. Gozo’s football team briefly played in the Maltese League, twice reaching the top tier and making it to the quarter finals of the Maltese Cup in 2000. The side disbanded following the 2010/11 season, however.