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Spotlight On: Xagħra

Photo: Paul Herrera

Xagħra is one of the largest towns in the Island of Gozo, with a  population of 4,129 inhabitants. This picturesque town has a particularly rich historical heritage and is one of the earliest inhabited parts in Gozo.

It is said that the town of Xaghra took its name from ‘Xagħret l-Għazzenin’, which translates to the “land of the lazy ones”, as farmers from all over Gozo used to go there with their flocks of sheep and goats, and while the animals feed on the grass, the farmers would spend the day relaxing, chatting and playing music.

The Parish Church of Xagħra is dedicated to Our Lady of Victories, also known as ‘il-Bambina’. The feast is celebrated on the 8th of September and commemorates the victory of the Maltese under the Knights of St. John over the Ottoman Turks in the Great Siege of 1565. It is one of the most beautiful churches in Gozo, with its richly-decorated interior, gilt sculptures, Italian marbles and paintings.

The town is home the UNESCO World Heritage Ġgantija megalithic temples, which date back to the year 3600BC, making them amongst the oldest freestanding stone structures in the world.

The town is also home to Xerri’s Grotto and  Ninu’s Cave,  both of which are located beneath private houses but open to the public, with remarkable stalactites and stalagmites.

Calypso Cave is a great spot overlooking the red sandy beach, Ramla l-Ħamra. This popular summer hotspot is idyllic to visit at any time of year.

Dating back to 1725, Ta’ Kola windmill is one of the  last two remaining complete and fully functioning mills on the Maltese Islands, although today it is just for show.

At the ground floor of this historical windmill, visitors can observe the workshop premises that holds a vast array of tools, some of which were manufactured by the last owners of the mill. On the first floor, the living quarters of the miller, including the kitchen, dining room and bedrooms, were recreated using traditional furniture and items related to Gozitan crafts, to provide a glimpse of this island’s local traditional rural life in the past centuries. Various traditional utensils and cooking ware, which today are hard to come across, are exhibited in the kitchen of this windmill.

As a holiday resort, Xaghra offers some fantastic views of the Gozitan landscape, it presents itself with an old fashioned and laid back lifestyle, friendly people and very safe to stay. Don’t miss out on Xagħra’s lively Victory Square with several bars and restaurants for entertainment.

Ta’ Kola windmill

SOME SPOTS IN Xagħra worth visiting

xerri's grotto

Photo: Paul Herrera

Photo: Paul Herrera

Hidden beneath an ordinary home is a small cavern with stalactites and stalagmites. It was discovered in 1924 while the owners were digging for a well. It is illuminated by electric lights so that visitors can see the rock formations. Entry is via a 10m spiral staircase, which was built into the original well shaft.  Visitors will find themselves approximately 7 metres below the surface and the guided pathway is about 17 metres long.The cave is open from Monday to Saturday from 9am till 6pm and the owners themselves will give visitors a 15 minute tour for a charge of only Eur2.50.

ramla l-Ħamra

Photo: Paul Herrera

Photo: Paul Herrera

Ramla Bay is located at the bottom of a rich and fertile valley on the northern side of the island of Gozo. It has particularly golden-reddish sand, which makes this beach stand out amongst the other beaches on the island. The area around the beach is quite interesting and provides some very rich historical treasures. The Romans built a villa richly decorated with marble and stucco. These Roman ruins now lie re-buried beneath the red sand. The beach is popular with locals and tourists alike, and part of it is a Natura 2000 site. You can catch the view from the Calypso Cave, which overlooks the western side of the beach.

Ġgantija Temples

The Ġgantija temples are the earliest of the Megalithic Temples of Malta and are even older than the pyramids of Egypt. The name Ġgantija derives from the word ‘ġgant’, Maltese for giant, as Gozitans used to believe the temples were built by a race of giants. The complex is made up of two temples side by side. These are the best preserved of all the Maltese temples. Despite being exceptionally well preserved, the older of the two temples here is the oldest of all the megalithic temples. The temples were built between 5,600 and 5,200 years ago and have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Megalithic Temples of Malta.

Basilica of the Nativity of Our Lady

Xagħra is not a large village, yet, to have a Parish Church so rich in treasures, makes this place unique.  The church was built in late 17th century and has an impressive limestone facade overlooking the main square of the town The interior is equally great – it’s decorated with marble, and it also includes stained glass windows. The church boasts the works of several well-known artists. The main altar-piece, dated 1744, showing the birth of Mary, is the work of Carlo Gimach and has been recently restored .One of the most notable artists whose works grace the church is  Maltese painter Giuseppe Calì.