Saturday we had our second day of guided tour with Mona, our wonderful tour guide. She picked us just after 7 a.m. We drove to the north of the island to catch the ferry to Gozo, an island a bit north of Malta, which belongs to Malta. The main island of Malta has nearly 500,000 inhabitants, while Gozo only has about 30,000. It has a much more relaxed atmosphere.
Traffic was light and there was an extra ferry, so we got to the island even earlier than planned. We had a few minutes to spare before the temple visitor center opened at 9 a.m. so we made a quick stop to get a few pictures looking back at the island of Comino.
Our first main stop in Gozo was the Megolithic temples at Ggantija. Unlike the temples on the main island of Malta, the temples on Gozo were not as widely excavated during the 1800s. They were discovered then, but the farmers covered them up so they could continue to farm the land, and thus they were not fully excavated until the 1980s, which means that the technologies and tools used for excavation were able to better preserve the artifacts.
The Ggantija temples were built between 3600 and 2500 B.C.E. making them the second oldest human-made religious structures. The visitor’s center focused mostly on the Xaghra circle, which was only more recently excavated, and is not open to visitors right now. Some of the artifacts were incredible though, especially the skull with all the teeth intact.
After the temples, we stopped at Dwejra, which up until a few years ago had an amazing arch rock structure called the Azure window, which unfortunately collapsed. The Blue hole and the inland sea were still notable sights to see.
The highlight of the trip was a visit to the citadel, which is near the center of the island, and provided protection from invaders for the inhabitants of Gozo for many years.
After the citadel we enjoyed a relaxing lunch along the coast at the boathouse restaurant in Xlendi. I had braised rabbit, which is a traditional Maltese dish. I was a bit perplexed when the waiter handed me wet wipes. I thought maybe I should eat it with my hands, but I wasn’t sure. After about 10 minutes of enjoying it with fork and knife, our tour guide informed me that normally it is eaten by hand, so then I dug in. It was delicious.