A small island in the Mediterranean, Gozo is separated from Malta by 5 km of sea. Its size is one-third of that of Malta and it is the second largest in the Maltese archipelago with a population of more than 30,000. It is a different island from Malta and more serene and rural. Known popularly by the name ‘Tiny Island’, Gozo is derived from a Castilian word meaning ‘joy’.
This island has gained increasing popularity in recent years due to its relaxed pace of life, wide array of activities and delicious food options that lure travelers from across the world. Gozo has a treasure of history and culture to explore.
It is an idyllic secluded sanctuary located at just 20 minutes from Malta by ferry. There are numerous fascinating things about this island that visitors from all over the world find interesting and attractive. Here, we look at the top ten interesting facts about the ‘Tiny Island’ of Gozo.
- Hollywood loves Gozo
The rugged coastline and intact interiors in Gozo have invited film-makers all through the years. The Tiny Island has provided the backdrop for the episodes of the famous ‘Game of Thrones’. Gozo has been shown in many films including 1981 UK horror movie ‘Inseminoid’ and the 1953 film ‘Single-Handed’.
A part of the television show of ‘Brideshead Revisited’ was shot here and even ‘Troy’ used this location. Visitors could see Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie shooting for their movie ‘By the Sea’ which was their first 10 years long joint project. ‘World War Z’ was also made here. Many Hollywood movies apart from these were shot here and it is believed to be one of the most feasible locations for film shoots.
- Gozo Has A History of Christian Martyrdom
The island of Malta was quite equipped to fight any invader while the rural folks of Gozo never intended to play a role in the battleship.
When the Ottoman Navy found that the main island was very well-protected in 1551 when invading, it decided to attack the poorly protected neighboring island and killed every male Gozo habitant and sold 6000 women and children for slavery. It took about 150 years for Gozo to get a population equal to pre-invasion levels.
- Gozo hosts numerous huge churches
All the towns in Gozo possess at least one church that is big enough to accommodate all its residents inside it. The Xewkijia church has a 75 metres high and 27 metres wide dome that makes it the third-largest dome in the whole of Europe. There are in all 46 churches on this island and this number is quite surprising considering its small area and population.
The largest church of Gozo, the Saint John Rotunda, was built in 50s and 60s but was too small and was dismantled and rebuilt to fill 800 people today and gets filled 5 times every Sunday.
- The Island Is Just 8.5 Miles By 4.5 Miles In Size
This size means that you will always be near a beach on the island. With warm Mediterranean climate, azure waters and sunshine filled days throughout the year, you get the ideal place to enjoy a long lazy day on the coast.
The tiny Wied Ghasri exposes the coastline of this island very well while the Blue Lagoon provides an excellent spot for swimming. The Xlendi Bay’s fishing village location is filled with bars and restaurants. A visit to Ramla Bay or San Blas Bay is a great way to explore soft cinnamon colored island sands.
- Getting around Gozo is really easy
Once you land at the airport of Malta, you can use the public transport option to reach the gateway of Gozo. Public transport is efficient and inexpensive here. There are many car and taxi hire garages apart from boats and cycles and you can always hire a guide with a vehicle to take a guided tour.
If you want to ensure that you don’t miss out anything, the Hop-on-Hop-off Bus tour is recommended. Certain features of Gozo can be experienced from the sea only and boat trips work the best at this.
- Gozo is ideal for adventurers
The rocky, dry landscapes of Gozo make it a great place to engage in your favorite outdoor passion. Visitors can try climbing caves, coves, cliffs around the island or use the indoor bouldering service in Rabat for adventurous fun.
Kayaking lets you get close to the dramatic marine life or limestone cliffs and one can even take a bike ride on Gozo’s SIBIT trail running across the coast. Any visitor is sure to love Gozo surprises with all its available activities, and adventures for an exciting experience.
- Gozo is home to the best diving opportunities
The coast of Gozo is popular for the clear visibility of underwater, fantastic collection of dive sites for beginners and experienced alike and plenty of wildlife. There are over a dozen dives accessible to diving enthusiasts from the shore like Ghasri Cave and Blue Hole.
The Three Eerie Shipwrecks are some of the most popular sites to explore. Calm waters and warm temperatures make favorable conditions for diving all round the year.
- Gozo dishes are unique and worth trying
Packing in Sicilian and Middle Eastern flavors, the Gozo dishes are true reflections of the history of the island. They make use of local ingredients such as rabbit and fresh fish. We recommend looking for a traditional village bakery to taste the authentic Gozo flavor.
Ftira is a ciabatta resembling flatbread smothered in fresh tuna and tomatoes and is a unique dish of Gozo. Sea breeze and sun provide good conditions for wines and the Tiny Island produces its own brews available for tasting all through the year at the microbrewery.
- Habitants have their special identity
Gozo inhabitants are known for their unique identity and character. Their lifestyle, dialect, and accents are particularly unique. They are popular for their warm welcome and friendliness and they go out of their way to help any tourist find his destination.
The locals are not known to misguide or cheat any tourist even when he is visiting the place for the first time. The pace of life in Gozo villages is slow. You can see old men playing traditional games and women gathering over lunches and talking.
- Gozo hosts historic sites pre-dating the Egyptian pyramids and Stonehenge
There is no doubt Gozo has plenty of history and culture. At the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ggantija, you can see towering temples believed to be built by giants. This 5500-year-old temple is known to be the second oldest man-made religious structure in the world.
There is also a famous Victoria Cathedral museum that contains a Pope Pius VII’s shoe and Pope John Paul II’s hat and gloves. Gozo’s Citadel is a site that should not be missed – one can see the whole island from the ramparts.
Villages are indeed a treasure of Gozo with amazing peace and tranquillity they feature, providing a lovely respite from modern pace any city dweller would endure in daily life. One can feel the taste of Gozo village life by renting a villa or holiday homes gozo and for luxury, rent apartment or hotel room.