Kempinski Blog Article
Why Gozo is different: Left so impressed by Gozo when he visited in 1866, the British artist and author Edward Lear (1812 – 1888) made up the words ‘pomskizillious’ and ‘gromphibberous’ to describe the magnificence of the island.
Gozo, the sister island of Malta, is considered to be the unspoilt beauty of the Mediterranean. More rural and calm, the island hides a variety of stunning landscapes, history and activities to experience. Less than 6 km (3.7 mi) away by ferry from Malta, it has conserved its heritage and cultural identity throughout the centuries. It is one of the world’s top diving destinations, attracting nature lovers and sports enthusiasts every year. Popular for its authenticity, Gozo has become an exclusive getaway destination.
How to Get Here
Major airlines operate flights to Malta from primary international airports of Europe and the Middle East. Arriving to Malta International Airport, you can take a bus or taxi transfer to Cirkkewa Harbour on the west coast of Malta. The ferry takes 25 minutes to cross to Mgarr in Gozo, the undiscovered jewel island, where the journey starts.
Movies and Opera Houses
The island of Gozo seems to be an inspiring place for the seventh art producers. In 1997, it was one of the locations for the Hallmark miniseries The Odyssey. St Mary’s Tower, situated in Comino, was chosen as a filming venue for The Count of Monte Cristo. The bay of Dwejra, located five minutes from Kempinski Hotel San Lawrenz, was used for the famous HBO TV series Game of Thrones in 2011.
More recently, the upcoming film By the Sea, featuring Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, was entirely filmed on Gozo in 2014, mostly at Mġarr ix-Xini. In this movie, the tranquil and picturesque seaside is the place where the couple starts to come to terms with their unresolved problems.
Gozo is also renowned for having two opera houses, Teatru Astra and Aurora Opera House. Every year, they welcome exclusive opera performances with international artists. Carmen, Aida, La Traviata: these emblematic shows constantly captivate people from Malta and abroad as a regular appointment to spend a charming evening.
Archaeology & History
Considered one of the oldest freestanding monuments in the world, preceding Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids, the UNESCO Heritage Ġgantija is a set of prehistoric temples dating back to 3600 / 3200 BC. The two temples are a strong symbol of art and culture preserved through the evolution of the island. The name Ġgantija derives from the word ‘ġgant’, Maltese for giant, as some of the megalith limestone blocks exceed 5 m (16.4 ft) in length and weigh over 50 tonnes (100,000 lbs).
Centrally located in Victoria, the fortified city of The Old Citadel (also called the Citadella or Kastell) rises dramatically above ir-Rabat (Maltese name of Victoria). The Citadel has been the centre of activities on the island since possibly Neolithic times, and was certainly fortified during the Bronze Age around 1500 BC. It is a perfect vantage point from which to observe the capital and the island.
Places of Worship
Despite its small size, there are 46 churches on Gozo, all full of treasures. Every small village has its own church and specific feast day when religious ceremonies and celebrations are held, bringing locals and tourists together. Churches are often huge in comparison with the population they serve, but a good church is a matter of pride for the traditional villages.
The churches vary enormously, from 17th-century baroque to 20th-century neoclassical. One of the most impressive examples is the third largest dome in Europe, St John the Baptist, located in the village of Ix-Xewkija. The dome, known as ‘The Rotunda’, is a superb architectural masterpiece that reveals an exquisite texture and the versatility of local limestone.
The cathedral of Ta' Pinu was constructed in front of the original chapel. The chapel remains intact behind the altar and still contains the painting of the Assumption to Heaven of Our Lady, depicting a woman from the village of Għarb, Karmni Grima who heard the voice of Our Lady the Virgin Mary in 1883.
Gozo is an experiential journey. All seasons offer a choice of activities – from biking through the rolling hills to hiking along the unspoilt coastline blessed with the stunning and spectacular Sanap cliffs. Tranquil beaches and secret caves all resting in the clear blue Mediterranean Sea are further hidden gems of the island.
A paradise for water sport lovers, kayaking or sailing is the perfect choice for those seeking to explore the island’s unspoilt spots in an alternative way. The main tourist attractions and cultural sites can also be discovered by jeep or quad bike. These options are ideal for those seeking a daily island adventure. Let the spirit of Gozo blow you away.
Unique Diving Sites
Diving in Gozo is very popular for the underwater visibility and magnificent scenery. The sea is usually calm, and the warm temperature makes diving and snorkelling possible almost all year round. Submerged caves, tunnels and arches together with a flourishing marine life are the reasons why Gozo is such a rich diving destination in the Mediterranean.
The unique Blue Hole in Dwejra next to the Azure Window, a natural underwater archway that connects to the open sea, is a major site to explore with unique rock formations full of marine life. Another attraction in itself is the wrecks scuttled off Gozo’s south coast and Comino. These sites are quite rare and yet accessible to discover.
Influenced by the best of Italian and North African cuisine, the Gozitan gastronomy will surprise you with its extended variety of flavours. With authentic restaurants offering a unique, familiar atmosphere to a fine-dining ambience, discover an impressive choice of culinary experiences with welcoming and attentive service everywhere. One of the traditional Gozitan delicacies is ‘Fenek Intektet’, the local rabbit braised on the bone with garlic, olives and rosemary. Pair this tasty dish with the aromatic Antonin red wine and enjoy the authentic taste of Gozo.