Discovering the Village of Xewkija, Gozo
Dominating the skyline on the southeastern side of the island of Gozo is the unmistakable dome of the Xewkija Rotunda church. But beyond the Rotunda dome, for which the village is widely known, there is so much to explore in Xewkija, which is one of the oldest villages on Gozo.
Here is a list of things to see and places where to go in Xewkija when exploring the village.
the village square and rotunda
Undoubtedly, the top place of where to go in Xewkija is the main square. Upon arriving at the square, you will experience the feel of the typical Gozitan village square, complete with community village clubs, smaller stores, restaurants and cafes. Step inside the massively grandiose rotunda admire the sheer space of the temple dedicated to St. John the Baptist. Initiated in 1951, the church, built in local honey-coloured globigerina limestone, is an architectural masterpiece with beautiful sculptures and a Carrara marble floor. The more recent scenic paintings from the life of St. John are by the Gozitan artist Paul Camilleri Cauchi.
The church is adorned with stained glass windows that burst with amazingly bright and diaphanous colours as the sun’s rays pour through them. Arch your neck upwards to follow the highest tip of the dome, considered the third largest freestanding dome in the world. On one side of the church, in the sacristy, one can visit the older church, which was dismantled stone by stone when the newer church was built around it. This is yet another thing of what to see in Xewkija.
The older church, which had served the parish since 1665, has been rebuilt as a museum to preserve the rich sculpture. If you’re visiting the village in June, it is worth noting that the people of Xewkija go to great lengths to celebrate their patron saint and their village feast is associated with joyful revelry and street décor including a gigantic street umbrella under which the youngsters dance to the band marches to avoid getting scorched in the sun.
Heralding all visitors at the crossroads, the Xewkija windmill is a landmark to all who visit the island of Gozo and not just Xewkija. The recently restored Xewkija windmill is open to visitors and must be one of the landmarks topping the list of what to see in Xewkija. Uniquely shaped as an octagonal structure, the windmill also features an oven, that served for baking bread in times gone by.
Bakeries, Vintage Grocery Store and more
Being one of the older villages on the island, Xewkija still preserves some older bakeries. While some are more notorious than others and are sought out by visitors who tour the village, others are still tucked away in the village’s backstreets. One particular old-style grocery store still sporting its well-preserved vintage sign still serves the community’s needs in one of the older streets. Xewkija is also known for the stone décor visible in the houses. The stone sculptures adorning the rotunda are the work of one of the local families. You might be lucky to notice one of the stone sculpture masters at work in a workshop that is a stone’s throw away from the windmill.
Away from the village core, Xewkija is a village that knows its roots in country life. Typical farmhouses and horse stables are scattered at the village’s periphery. From here, it is easy to follow paths that lead to rural scenes and coastal views. On the edge of the village of Xewkija, you will also find the medieval Chapel of Santa Cecilia, considered to be the oldest chapel in Gozo. Don’t miss out on this, as it is another landmark of what to see in Xewkija.
Mġarr ix-Xini Bay and Tower
One particular road leads to the valley and the bay of Mġarr ix-Xini, a quaint bay guarded by a coastal tower. You can hike down to this place or be prepared to drive down a narrow and steep country road to reach the bay. The bay and the surrounding waters are also a favourite diving spot. Mġarr ix-Xini Bay became very famous when Angelina Jolie filmed her production ‘By the Sea’ at this inlet, definitely, another spot where to go in Xewkija.