The Old Prison situated within the walls of the Cittadella is the oldest surviving prison in Gozo. Back in the days it was used by Knights of St John by dispatching here their rowdy members.
Although the practice of incarceration in Gozo started at least since late medieval times, the present Old Prison structure - albeit taking different forms in different times - was in use since the middle of the 16th century and remained in use till the beginning of the 20th century. Soon after their arrival in Malta, the Knights of St john started making full use of this prison. Among its notorious inmates, the most historical one was Fra Jean Parisot de La Valette, later grandmaster of Malta. Dueling, murder, and other crimes often not of a religious nature were amongst the common reasons why knights were sent to the Gozo Prison. However knights were not the only ones to be imprisoned here.
In its present form, the prison complex is divided into two sections: an entrance hall and a free standing block with six individual cells.The present entrance hall, which has undergone several modifications, served as a communal cell as from the 19th century.At times, the number of inmates in this cell used to be quite high. Nowadays, this entrance hall hosts an interpretative exhibition on graffiti in Gozo. The individual cells, overlooking a central courtyard and surrounded by a narrow corridor, still retain much of their original state. The massive low doors with their heavy locks are also the original ones.
An important feature of Gozo Prison is the amount of graffiti with which the walls of the cells and corridors are literally littered.They are depicting sea vessels of different types and from different periods, the handprints, Knights crosses, names, mathematical calculations, wind roses, flags, windmills and other figures.
Previous pageGozo Museum of Archaeology