One of the small islands in the Maltese Archipelago is the small island Gozo, also known amongst the locals as Ghawdex, the 2nd largest island of this archipelago. With a population of over 31,000 inhabitants, Gozo is only 67 km² in size and is more rural than the larger island of Malta.
Getting to Gozo is easy from both Malta and Comino where a number of ferries cross the journey several times a day. The most common service used by many local inhabitants is the Gozo ferry service, known as the Gozo Channel, which runs regularly between Cirkewwa in Malta and Mgarr in Gozo. For those who prefer travelling by air, a helicopter service is also available from the local airport on a daily basis.
Time seems to have stood still in Gozo, where many of the inhabitants still uphold many old traditions. Catholic traditions are also very prominent on this tiny island and can be witnessed by the concentration of churches located all over the island. One of the most prominent churches is the church in Xewkija, which can host about 3,000 visitors to ensure that all the inhabitants of this village can fit in. Beliefs of miracles, Holy apparitions are widespread on the island and the erection of chapels and churches are common to fulfil promises for mercies and miracles received.
Just like Malta, historical places of interest in Gozo are widely spread. Some of these historical treasures include the Ġgantija Temples, the Xagħra circle, the Old Prison and various fortifications spread all over the island. It’s history can be traced back to around 5,000 BC when it was inhabited by Sicilians, mainly from the Agrigento region. This is evident from pottery remains found in the caves around the San Lawrenz area. The Arabs took control of this island in the 9th Century and to date a number of names of various localities around the island are still a reflection of this era. Over the centuries, just like Malta, Gozo was influenced by many different occupants including the Knights of St John.
In Homer’s Odyssey, it is thought that the island of Ogygia is actually Gozo where Calypso, a beautiful nymph, held Odysseus captive for a number of years promising him immortality if he remained with her. Calypso cast a spell on Odysseus because she was madly in love with him. This love however was not returned because Odysseus was still in love with his wife Penelope. It was because of this great love for Penelope that Odysseus broke Calypso’s spell and eventually escaped to be reunited with his wife. Other legends surrounding Gozo are widespread on the island, including legends of maidens in distress being saved by the Knights of St John.