Cittadella, is an ancient fortified city visible across Gozo island.
Spotlighting Gozo’s iconic landmark and revealing 5 things to look out for when visiting with the family.
The Cittadella Gozo
The Cittadella Gozo is a historical wonder hosting various gorgeous spots entwined with legends. Also known as ‘Citadel’ and ‘Gran Castello’, it is an ancient fortified city covering around 18,000 square metres, situated in the heart of our capital city of Victoria (formerly known as Rabat).
The area is believed to have been inhabited since the Bronze Age on Gozo. Proof of this is the silos, found during the renovation works. Since then, it has served as the acropolis of the Punic-Roman city of Gaulos and after that as a medieval castle. The northern city walls are still intact from medieval times whilst the southern walls were upgraded by the knights of St. John. After the Ottomans attacked the city in 1551 they managed to take nearly the whole population captive.
The Citadel Gozo is car-free from the city walls inwards, giving us a ‘back-in-time’ feel, however, although most of the passageways are easily accessible with strollers and buggies, some parts are not. We recommend parking in the private parking area (there is a small fee) which is right outside the city walls and exploring further on foot.
Whilst strolling around the narrow streets of the Cittadella in Gozo you can learn about the city’s secrets and history via the placards dotted around on the walls. We challenge you to try and find the hidden north gate! This gate was used in 1551 by the very few people who managed to escape being captured by the Ottomans.
2. Admire The Astounding Views
Walk along the outer perimeter of the Cittadella, it’s one of the highest points in Gozo and you can see most of the island especially if you walk along the Northern walls. If you really want to enjoy a 360-degree view, go to St. Martin Cavalier Bastion, which is the highest point in the city.
3. Spend Time At The Cittadella Museum
For just €5 per adult and €2.50 per child, you can visit all the museums scattered around the Gozo Cittadella. The Old Prison, The Gozo Museum of Archaeology, The Gran Castello Historic House, The Gozo Nature Museum and The Citadella Visitors’ Centre. If you don’t have much time to spare, we suggest you visit the Old Prison which dates back to the time of the Knights of St. John. Here, in 1538, Fra Jean Parisot de La Valette was imprisoned for four months for attacking a man. He later became the most famous Grand Master in the history of the Maltese islands, with Malta’s capital city being built under his watch.
4. Walk Inside The Not-So-Known Sally Ports
There are four ways to get into the Cittadella ‘ditch’. Two of them are right next to the Visitors’ Centre while a third one gives access to the ditch from a gate in the North-Eastern part of the wall. The most enchanting of all is the fourth one – a lesser-known passageway through tunnels, known as sally ports. To find these, go to the original main entrance, and there is a small doorway on the right. These sally ports were used for military purposes in Gozo to facilitate access to and from the ditch. Note that the passageway through the tunnels is a flight of steps, so if you’re with a stroller, you can access the ditch from near the Visitors’ Centre.
5. Picnic In The Cittadella Ditch
Enjoy the recently renovated ditch and sit on one of the benches, perfectly located to admire the huge fortified walls of the Citadella as a whole. This is the perfect spot to enjoy a snack – stay in the shade of the orange trees while your children roam freely around the ditch. No cars, no pollution, just the birds chirping and your children laughing – can it get better than that?