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Gozo: An island of temples

Clearly, Gozo is a tiny island but extraordinarily rich in history. It’s just enough for you to go on high grounds from any point in Gozo and count all the church domes you can see!  

The world-renowed temples of Ġgantija, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, date back to between 3600 and 3200 BC. They are considered as one of the oldest free-standing monuments in the world, preceding Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids. Some of the megaliths of the Ġgantija Temples exceed five metres in length and weigh over fifty tons. Giants were believed to have constructed these prehistoric temples and that is from where the name originates. Entrance to the Ġgantija Temples is from a newly constructed ‘Interpretation Centre’ that provides visitors with the opportunity to explore various aspects related to life in the Neolithic Period. The centre is also home to a selection of the most significant finds discovered at various prehistoric sites in Gozo. A must visit for all prehistoric aficionados, for all of you who are keen to learn more about our rich past and for families who wish to teach personal history lessons to their children in a more realistic and interactive way.

Moving forward to more recent history, whatever your religion or beliefs, the churches of Gozo, 46 in total, are an integral part of the island’s culture and well worth a visit. Some, also have an outstanding history. The churches vary enormously, from seventeenth-century baroque to twentieth-century neoclassical; from small and intimate to one of the largest dome in the world, the Rotunda of St. John the Baptist.

An iconic view of Gozo’s landscape is of course the Gozo Cathedral. A temple in itself. Designed by a renowned Maltese architect Lorenzo Gafà, the Cathedral of Gozo is built entirely from limestone. Constructed between 1697 and 1711, the Baroque style building stands in the form of a Latin cross. Inside, the ceiling cleverly shows a painted masterpiece dating back to 1739 and depicting the ceiling as a dome, confusing many a first-time visitor.

Another famous site, often described as the temple of miracles, is Ta’ Pinu Sanctuary. It attracts visitors worldwide and the story behind it is one that tells of a local lady from the nearby village of Għarb, who in 1883 heard the voice of ‘Our Lady’ depicted in the painting. Adorned with Maltese sculptures and the finest of Maltese stone masonry, the sanctuary that stands today was built between 1920 and 1931.

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