As it is said on Malta, all roads in Gozo go to its capital, Victoria, or Rabat as it is often called by locals. The city consists of the antique Citadel town and old Rabat town. Nowadays the population of Victoria amounts to about 7000 people. The island capital received its name in 1887 when the jubilee of the Britain’s Queen Victoria was celebrated.
Located on the top of the island hill and raising high above all the city, the Citadel part can be seen from almost all surroundings. This is why it is often called the Crown of Gozo. Citadel was first fortified in about 1500 BC, the times of Bronze Age; though there are many pieces of evidence that history of this place began long before this period, in Neolithic times. In AC period, Phoenicians ruled this territory for some time. Then the Roman Times came, and these territories became the acropolis of a city named Glauconis Civitas. The stone walls which rise massively above the town were built by the Knights in Middle Ages in order to protect location from enemy attacks. The island suffered from repeating attacks of Saracens and Barbary corsairs and only Citadel’s walls became a safe shelter for its population.
Numerous spots of interest can be found in Citadel so any tourist should plan half a day minimum to observe it. First of all, one should visit the Gozo Cathedral, a 17th-century baroque building, designed by Lorenzo Gafa, the same architect who built the Cathedral of Mdina. The Old Prison and Law Courts will also welcome guests of the town. Those who like going to museums will enjoy a wide choice of them. They can visit such museums as the Museum of Archeology, Natural Science, Folklore, and others. Moreover, many exhibitions of various subjects like photography, paintings or even jewelry are also organized in the ancient city.
The center of old town Rabat has somewhat different atmosphere. In its central part, Independence Square, tourists’ attention will be caught by buildings of historical significance, such as Banca Giuratale, for example, which was built between 1733 and 1738. Today Victoria Local Council occupies it and some time before it was the seat of Gozo municipal government. Right in the center of the city tourists may also visit The Grand Basilica, one of the oldest buildings in the town, surrounded by picturesque old streets worth walking along. Independence Square and adjacent lanes are perfect for buying various goodies, like souvenirs, presents, and delicacies. Souvenirs are mostly represented on the daily open-air market located on the square, and delicacies are offered in the numerous cafes of the square and in little shops on the streets around.
Feeling tired of noise and looking for some rest, tourists would enjoy going to such a quiet place as the Villa Rundle Public Gardens, opened by the British in the 19th century. The gardens are planted both with numerous local flora varieties and with the imported ones, as, for example, ficus and Canary Palms. In the middle of Villa Rundle tourists can breathe fresh air and relax near a fountain.
Coming to Victoria, guests of the city will understand soon that this is not just a formal capital of the Gozo. Victoria is the island’s heart where true life pace of its inhabitants and their peaceful and sociable moods can be caught in a moment. And if one is lucky to visit Victoria on festa he will also see and feel people’s hospitality and excellence in having fun.