Main Attractions

In 1887, Rabat, the old name of the main city of Gozo was replaced by Victoria. Rabbath is a word of Phoenician derivation which probably entered our language through the Punic tongue.  The official change in name occurred on 10th June 1887, the year of Queen Victoria’s Coronation Golden Jubilee.  The Gozitans deemed that this would be a fitting tribute for their Empress-Queen and a commemorative inscription at the Cathedral Square calls to mind this occasion.

Of more than six thousand residents, Victoria is a city in the true sense of the word.  Besides being the geographical and commercial hub of the island, it is the core of all the administrative machinery which is characteristic of a metropolitan capital – Government offices, banks, a Cathedral, business firms, schools and a public library, museums, post office, two theatres and six convents housing an equal number of male and female religious Orders.

Undoubtedly the Citadel is the city’s inestimable jewel, visited daily by many.  In his book Carrier – Citadel Metamorphosis, Richard England refers to it as a ‘matriarchal image and figure head in relation to gozitan villages and island’s inhole defensive system’.  Likewise Rev. Dr. Joe Bezzina in his book The Gozo Citadel claims that ‘the Citadel is Gozo’s best known landmark and the island’s major tourist attraction’.  Besides the Cathedral-incorporating Citadel, Victoria can boast of other fine architectural specimens among which are the three monasteries – Franciscan, Augustinian and Capuchins, St. George’s Basilica with its epic paintings of Preti, Cali, Erardi, Zahra, D’Arena and Busuttil, the Cathedral dome painting of the Messina artist Antonio Manuele and the Banca Guiratale built in 1773 by Francois de Moudion which houses the Cultural Information Centre and the Offices of our city’s Local Council.

Social life is varied and intense.  Voluntary initiatives take different forms.  First and foremost are the Catholic organisations; the Museum, Catholic Action, Legion of Mary and such Movements of religious inspiration as Cana, Scouts, MAS, the Don Bosco Oratory and the ARKA and OASI Foundations.  Featuring prominently in Victoria are the sports clubs, football, volleyball and bowls.  The Sports Complex at the heart of Victoria meets the needs of all Gozitans.  Political, band and other clubs boost the city’s social life.

Two nationally acclaimed feasts grace the summer festive season; St. George’s celebrated during the third week of July and the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the middle of August.  Popular and renowned for their lavish celebrations, these feasts attract not only locals from all parts of Malta but a sizeable number of emigrants.

This general overview of Victoria serves as a prologue for a closer look at the characteristics of the city people whose numbers swell daily by an influx of tourists who relish our hospitality and numerous villagers, summoned to town by miscellaneous needs.

According to researchers the citadel is the oldest part of Victoria a summit equivalent to a  Greek Acropolis.  As the peak of Victoria, the citadel was always well kept and buttressed by bastions offering the Gozitan population indispensable shelter from enemy attacks.  By common consent, it is assumed that the citadel, also known as Grand Castello, owes its beginning to the Phoenicians around the year 1800 BC, even before the inception of Rome.

In 1551 this city was ravaged by the Turks under the command of Sinam Baxa who deported around 600 of its inhabitants leaving behind him some 40 old people.  Luckily, anticipating the demise, some 300 Gozitans had escaped bondage by using ropes and scaling down the bastions the previous night.  At the time the Governor of Gozo was the Aragonese knight Fra Galazia de Sesse.  The slaves were carried to Tripoli where it is believed that their descendants have survived to the present day in Tarhuna.

The citadel’s fortifications were strengthened under the subsequent rules of Grandmasters Juan d’Omedes and Garzes.  Unconfirmed reports have it that on 8th February 1576, Grandmaster La Valette himself visited the site to inspect the work being carried out at the citadel.  Up to 1637 it was mandatory for all Gozitans to spend the night inside the walls because fears of Turkish raids remained persistent.

In 1956 a new arch facing the Cathedral Church was opened providing an alternative access to the small side opening, which was otherwise the only available entrance.  A Latin inscription on the keystone of this old gangway recalls that under the Roman rule of Emperor Antonius Pius (AD 86-161) Gozo enjoyed a municipal title.

Inside, within a stone’s throw away from this inscription, there is the National Museum of Archaeology.  Formerly known as Casa Bondi, the building was restored by the Governor of Gozo Sir Harry Luke in 1937.  It is said that in remoter times, this palace served as the Inquisitor’s residence when he visited Gozo.  Worthy of mention among its incumbents were Mgr. Fabio Gigo who later became Pope Alexander VII and Mgr. Antonio Panatela who was also elected to the See of Peter as Innocent XII.  Among its multiple designations, this mansion of Spanish design and architecture, housed the knights of St. John when they convened in Gozo.  It was also in here that the British Governors and counsellors hosted guests on special occasions.

Further inwards lies the one-time corrective facility, which has been turned into a Gozitan Crafts Centre.  Adjacent to this building is a well-sized arch where the Bishop of Gozo stationed his horse-driven cab when he was at the Cathedral or at his palace.

Nearby is an old chapel dedicated to St.Barbara where in 1607, Fra Vittorio Cassar, the son of the famous architect Fra Gerolamo, had constructed two tombs one for himself and another for the poor.  In 1889 the police authorities revoked the burial permit in this place until in 1934 it was taken over by the Cathedral Chapter as a cemetery for its canons and priests.  Eventually, even this practice came to an end and today St. Mary’s cemetery at tal-Barmil offers enough burial space for all townsfolk.

Opposite to the Archaeology Museum an ancient niche, dedicated to Our Lady of Solitude, dates back to 1559.  Giovanni Soria had left a commission binding the Rector to light a lamp in front of the image every Saturday and on feast days.

Within the same precincts of the old town, the Cathedral Square hosts the historic buildings of the Law Courts and the Public Registry.  The Law Courts were erected by Grandmaster Alof de Wignacourt in the beginning of the 17th Century.  On the other hand the Public Registry was the official residence of the Governor of Gozo.  Further up the road stand the restored prisons of the Order of the St. John where it is believed that La Valette passed some days in one of the cells during his childhood.  Now in an enviable state under the auspices of Heritage Malta, the building is open for public.  Graffiti on the walls are a living document of untold stories of grief and woe.

In front of the Cathedral is the watchtower with the 1639 clock facing the Church.  A second clock overlooking the city was added in 1736.  It started chiming quarters in 1806.  The present clock was installed on 30th January 1858 and its tower replaced one of the Citadel’s sentry boxes.

Facing the Law Courts, on the right hand side of the Cathedral bearing the emblem of Archbishop Pietro Pace is the late 19th Century building (1897) commissioned by the prelate himself.  The balustrade was supplemented in 1957.  As of 23rd May 1899 it has hosted the meetings of the Cathedral Chapter in its main hall.

The Cathedral had been a pagan temple and along the centuries it was reconstructed several times until Count Roger built it anew and attached to it vast stretches of land.  Bishop Cagliares elevated it to a Collegiate Church in 1623.

The construction of the present temple on Lorenzo Gafa’s sketch was initiated on 21st September 1697 four years after the 1693 earthquake and terminated on 14th August 1716.  Dedicated to the Assumption of Our Lady and St. Ursola, it was consecrated by Bishop Cannares on 11th October 1716.  It became the Cathedral of Gozo in 1864.  Our Lady’s statue with its capturing gaze which is carried processionally around Victoria come 15th August is an 1897 masterpiece of Roman origin.   The cornice of the Church supports a fake dome.  For some unknown reason the Church building peaks with a flat roof which however was given a virtual dome image by a painting of the Sicilian artist Antonio Manuele of Messina put in place on 24th March 1739.  A small figure of a lizard in one of the cupola windows still bemuses onlookers, but may well be the signature of the artist.

In the chapel dedicated to Christ the Saviour, there is a bust of St. Ursola, an English saint who is said to have been martyred around the second and third centuries.  The bust had been at the bow of a ship which in 1600 was caught up in a tempest.  Facing imminent extinction, the crew made a promise to leave the bust on the first land they reached, should they survive the storm.  They were shipwrecked on Gozo and kept their promise.  In 1614 Governor Fra Eugenio Ramirez Maldonato donated the bust to this Matrice.  In time of woe, Gozitans found refuge in the protection of St.Ursola.  Today the Cathedral has its own Museum which is open for visitors.

On the left hand side of the Cathedral lies St. Joseph’s chapel, an old church which was restored by Governor Sir Harry Luke.  Originally this Renaissance chapel was dedicated to St.Nicholas, even before 1575.

Visible, just prior to this chapel, are the remains of Fra Bernardo Depuo’s house.  Rather than being carried into slavery by the Turks, this valorous knight fell fighting, killing his wife and two daughters in the process.

Under the patronage of Heritage Malta are the Folklore and the Natural History Museums two of the Citadel’s must-not-miss attractions.  Opening times during the week are from 0900 to 1700 hours, an ample spell for a ticket buyer to enjoy the spectacle at leisure.  It would be also worthwhile to visit the Battery and the Gunpowder Depot which have been recently revamped.

Down the flight of steps, just before the descent to it-Tokk (today renamed Independence Square) one can see an obelisk; a stone plinth enclosed by chains on all sides and featuring a Latin inscription.  It commemorates the arrival of fresh water to Victoria, initially in 1841 during the time of Governor Sir Henry Bouverie and later on from Xaghra during the tenure of office of Sir Charles Von Straubenzee.  The plinth lies on a water cistern, one the many  found at the Citadel.

Just before acceding to Independence Square is the cinema-goers haven, the Citadel Theatre housing two Cinema halls where films are run every evening, also the documentary about Gozo – Island of Joy – Gozo 360, an audio-visual production about the life and times of the Island of the three hills.

The old name of Independence Square, it-Tokk refers to the town centre the pride of place for special occasions such as band concerts and political meetings.  Highlights from the popular feasts of St. George and the Assumption are always held at this prime venue.  Even the Carnival Defile is staged in this square.  Way back on 30th July 1969 a procession with the statue of St. Ursola left the Cathedral and made its way to St. George’s Basilica.  Midway through its course, the procession came to a halt in this square and the main celebrant prayed that Gozo might be delivered from an insect plague, which had infested the island.  It is recorded that the scourge was lifted soon afterwards.

The imposing semi-circular building gracing the square is the Banca Guiratale, until the end of the Second World War, the Central Post Office.  Earlier, it had housed the Public Archives since 1640.  The present building bearing the design of Chev. Mondion, originally intended as the Counsellors’ Seat, was terminated in 1733, during the grandmastership of De Vilhena.  At the time the Governor of Gozo was Paolo Antonio De Viguer.  It replaced an older edifice in front of which judges sat on stone benches pronouncing sentences.  The Banca also served as the town hall of the Civic Council.

The monument for the fallen of the Second World War dominates the lateral side of Independence Square.  The bronze effigy of Christ the King which cost Lm1000 is the work of the Roman sculptor Carlo Pisi.  It is set on a granite pedestal hewn from Qala Point.  Queen Elizabeth II inaugurated the monument on 7th May 1954.

Across the square from the Banca Guiratale there is the small newly refurbished church of St. James. Following the 1551 corsair raid on Gozo led by Sinam Baxa the church suffered extensive damages and had to be rebuilt.  The feat for which Grand Master Ramon Despuig donated 200 scudi was accomplished by 1740. As from 1847 it was in this Church that crops were blessed on St. Mark’s day, 25th April.  There was also a time when burials were permitted in the Church’s yard.  St. James’ was consecrated on 18th January 1942.  The artistic and devout statue of Our Lady of Sorrows, which is carried out processionally one week from Good Friday, was brought to Gozo from Munich in 1879. 

Across the square from the Banca Guiratale there is the small newly refurbished church of St. James. Following the 1551 corsair raid on Gozo led by Sinam Baxa the church suffered extensive damages and had to be rebuilt.  The feat for which Grand Master Ramon Despuig donated 200 scudi was accomplished by 1740. As from 1847 it was in this Church that crops were blessed on St. Mark’s day, 25th April.  There was also a time when burials were permitted in the Church’s yard.  St. James’ was consecrated on 18th January 1942.  The artistic and devout statue of Our Lady of Sorrows, which is carried out processionally one week from Good Friday, was brought to Gozo from Munich in 1879. 

Next to the Church of St. James is the Episcopal Palace which also houses the offices of the Diocesan Curia.  The building was acquired for a sum of 24,000 scudi from the Bondi family on 28th  February 1880.  Here His Lordship Bishop Buttigieg hosted Governor Sir Henry K. Storks who in 1864 had crossed over to greet him on his induction.

A narrow street, the popular spot of the city’s open market connects Independence Square to St. George’s Square home to St. George’s Basilica, a title which was conferred on this church by Pope Pius XII on 6th September 1958.

The first stone of this Church was laid down on 7th August 1672 and the work was terminated three years later.  Even the Governor, Fra Francesco de Cordoba lent a helping hand in the construction works.  The dome was severely damaged by the earthquake which shook the island in 1693.  The titular altarpiece featuring the victory of St. George over the powers of evil is the work of the renowned Calabrian painter Mattia Preti; as is also the lateral portrait of All Souls.  Among the artists who have contributed to the embellishment of this temple are Francesco Zahra, Giuseppe d’Arena, Giuseppe Cali and Stefano Erardi.  The ceiling and cupola paintings are the work of the Roman artist Gian Battista Conti – more commonly known as the angelic painter.  Adorning the marble-clad Church is a bronze canopy, an exact replica of Bernini’s Vatican original, which was placed in 1967 having cost Lm20, 000.  The titular statue of St. George is an 1839 masterpiece in wood of Maestro Pawl Azzopardi and is carried out processionally every third Sunday of July.  On the opposite side of the church a bronze effigy against the squarely arched frontage recalls the Gozitan poetess Mary Meilak.

At the back of Independence Square lies the smaller Savina Square in which a Church of Perpetual Adoration was already in existence in 1479.  It was rebuilt in 1502 and up to 1899 burials were still performed in its yard.  At the turn of the century in 1900, the Cathedral Chapter commissioned the re-building of this Church which was then consecrated on 17th February 1904.  A marble inscription on the right hand side records its enlargement and opening for adoration on 29th April 1913 by Cardinal Domenico Ferrata who was on the islands as Papal delegate for the Eucharistic Congress.  Mgr. Luigi Vella, later Archdeacon of the Cathedral Church, became rector at Savina.  It was a fitting tribute for a priest who had worked his heart out to see it rebuilt and opened for vigil, even by petitioning and being granted a special permission from Rome.

Savina Square is hectic hub of passage.  It is the main traffic artery leading to Dwejra Bay, Ta’ Pinu  Sanctuary  and the villages of Kercem, Gharb, Ghasri, St. Lawrence and Zebbug.  Formerly, the location of an open market, the square bustled with farmers, fishermen, businessmen and customers buying, selling, bartering and carrying out countless other transactions.  On 6th May 1942 during Second World War action, a German dive-bomber flying at low altitude opened a barrage of machine gun fire hitting several lorries and a bus, killing its driver.

Along Republic Street flanking the Bishop’s Palace alias the Diocesan Curia stands the Main Post Office Building and other Public Offices.  On the opposite side of the street lies Astra Theatre, home to La Stella Philarmonic Society, equipped with a cinema hall and a stage for calendar representations of plays, operas and musicals.  Further on, the two sides of the slope are lined by retail outlets leading to the Tigrija Palazz Complex, the Police Central Station and the Aurora Theatre which also houses a cinema hall.  It is the quarters of the Leone Philarmonic Society which provides a wide range of all-year-round entertainment including, films dramas and operas.

On the same side, a colonnaded block leads to Villa Rundle, a public garden named after Governor Sir Leslie Rundle who was a favourite with Gozo.  It was through his efforts that the gardens were inaugurated during the years of the First World War.  Rundle Gardens are the venue of an Agricultural and Industrial Exhibition invariably held in mid-August since 1955.  In this place, which is not always fully appreciated, there is a bronze bust of Canon Gian Piet Agius de Soldanis (1712-1770) a prominent scholar and historian.  His academic work on the Maltese alphabet resulted in the first ever grammar and dictionary in Maltese. He was also the first librarian of the public library in Malta.  His bust was installed following some sterling work by the Gozo Historical Society in 1964.

Nearby is another bust of the Gozitan writer Laurent Ropa who hailed from Xaghra.  The monument was realized through the work of Klabb Kotba Maltin.  As a writer Ropa had made a name in France where he was a Head of School.

As the descent levels out, the plain is dominated by three school buildings, the first of which is the former Gozo Technical Institute now the Centre for Further Studies (6th Form) Sir M.A. Refalo.  A symbolic three-hill fountain representing Gozo’s coat of arms adorns its front.  Nearby, the monument in honour of Ninu Cremona, the Gozitan scholar of the Maltese language, has as its backdrop the boys’ secondary school.  These projects were accomplished through the dedicated initiatives of Chev. Peter Paul Grech who was also responsible for the inception of a modern library next to the Ninu Cremona Lyceum Complex.  The third school is the Girls’ Secondary named after Canon Agius de Soldanis.  The Arcadia Shopping Complex, the Diocesan Media Centre and the Cana Movement Centre named after Pope John Paul II are further out on the road which leads to the turf-laden Gozo Stadium at the boundary of Victoria.

Retracing our steps from the academic nucleus, back to Republic Street bypassing the two main commercial banks BOV and HSBC and turning to the left beyond the Bus Terminus (of late embellished by the memorial for the first-class Gozitan poet George Pisani) we come to St. Francis Square, the location of the Ministry for Gozo and the Conventual compound of the Franciscan fathers.  It is believed that this convent dates even before the onset of the sixteenth century and the first brothers who set foot in Gozo made their abode in some underground caves of the neighbourhood.  During times of high alert from Turkish raids, Grandmaster Alof de Wignacourt had granted them permission for nightly refuge within the walls of the Citadel.

The large part of this convent was built in the seventeenth century.  The church was ready by 1633 but it had to wait more than two and a half centuries for its consecration by Bishop Camilleri in 1906.  In 1890 the church was closed for public worship owing to the deterioration of its roof which was subsequently rebuilt with the facade facilitating its re-opening on 16th April 1893.

On 10th December 1652, Pope Innocent X was about to confiscate the building had not an influential figure intervened on behalf of the Franciscans.  On his election, Grandmaster De Vilhena visited Gozo and used this place as his residence from 5th to 9th June 1742.  The titular painting is the work of the Dutch artist Jean Baptist Van Loo and was paid by Fra Giovanni Fenech in 1675.

One of the lateral sides of the square is occupied by the old Central Hospital which no longer serves this purpose since a modern hospital was inaugurated in Ghajn Qatet street a couple of blocks away from this Church.  The complex has been taken over by the Ministry for Gozo which incorporates various Government Departments.  In 1719 under the rule of the Italian Grandmaster Marco Antonio Zondadori, Canon Giovanni M.Camilleri pioneered the works on the old hospital which was founded and sponsored by the Grandmaster’s brother  Fra Gregorio.  Construction works came to an end under de Vilhena who took a keen personal interest in the project.  Initially only males were treated at this hospital, but eventually in 1838, especially after the closure of the Citadel hospital, females stated being admitted too.  A century after its inception a chapel was annexed, which was rebuilt in 1893 and consecrated on 23rd November 1954 more than three years subsequent to the distinguished visit of Queen Elizabeth, then Princess of Wales, on 2nd April 1951.

A smaller city hospital is that of St. Therese situated to the rear of the Franciscan Church on ta’ l-Ibragg hill.   Erected in 1926, it was originally intended for ophthalmology patients but after 1933 it became exclusively a TB treatment centre.  Today an up-to-date mental asylum has replaced it.  Within eyesight distance is Residenza Sant Anna a female geriatric wing of the Gozo General Hospital.

Also in this zone is the former charity house lately transformed into the Bishop’s Conservatory School home to a Primary and a Girls’ Secondary Complex.  Built through the initiative of Bishop Labini in 1789, the premises were entrusted to the Sisters of Charity to provide for orphaned children.

Manresa House is a retreat recess on the road to the picturesque village of Munxar.  The foundation stone of this building was laid on 31st May 1810.  Throughout the years the place has witnessed several changes until the recent renovation into a stylish retreat alcove run by the Jesuit fathers who also host people craving for some hassle-free days.  Our Lady of Manresa and St. Ignatius of Loyola are the patron saints.  The titular altarpiece in the chapel is the work of Guiseppe Hyzler and beneath the altar lie the remains of St. Fortunata.  This area is also known as St. Domenica a reference deriving from a seventeenth century chapel which stood in this place.  During the last Great War this house served as a mustering point for casualties and also as a residence for the elderly.  It was in 1953 that the Jesuit fathers took over the administration of the house which is very popular for retreats.

Back to St. Francis Square, the environs of Enrico Mizzi Street are dominated by the imposing Gozo Seminary, originally a Church-run hospital which at the beginning of the nineteenth century was transformed into a Seminary by the Bishop of Gozo who entrusted its running to the Jesuit fathers.  While offering a sound basic education to many prominent people in Malta and Gozo, the Seminary has, over the years, been the source of a constant supply of zealous priests to the Diocese.  Lately revamped, it has seen to the addition of a multi-purpose sports hall.  Across the street lies the monastery of the Domenican sisters.  The church is dedicated to Our Lady of Pompei and was consecrated by the Domenican Bishop Angelo Portelli on 1st July 1923.  The decorative painting bears the signature of Lazzaro Pisani.  It was on 16th October 1966 that Bishop Mgr. Joseph Pace crowned the Madonna of the titular altarpiece in St. Augustine Square.

Another religious congregation is that found in Palm Street; the Franciscan sisters of the Sacred Heart whose order has spread far and wide to the five continents.  The Convent in Palm Street is the Mother House which was built together with the church in 1885 and consecrated by Bishop Camilleri on 20th January 1909.   The Order was instituted in 1880 following the efforts of Fr. Joseph Diacono and Margerita Debrincat, the meek maiden from Kercem, 

In Vajringa Street a landmark building houses the Primary School named after Sir Arturo Mercieca, and the Public Library which opened its doors on 21st November 1853.  A few metres away, Library Street recalls a smaller predecessor.  While a lending library in St. Francis Square serves the reading needs of the general public, the Vajringa library equipped with computers is a well-stocked academic reference point.

Before reaching St. Augustine Square a marble inscription against one of the residences recalls Gianni Vassallo (1862-1937) a forerunner of Maltese orthography who worked as a registrar at the Law Courts bequeathing us the first rules of writing.

St.Augustine Square takes its name from the Convent and Church of the Augustinian Fathers. It is the oldest religious house in Gozo and most probably the first of the Augustinian monks in Malta.   Documented evidence shows that the building already existed as of 1453, although other researches point back to 1260.

According to tradition the Augustinian Bishop St. Rossinian had fled Africa to escape the marauding Vandals and came directly to Gozo.  Settling at Ramla, he set up the first monastery incorporating a church in honour of Our Lady of Gajdoru in 439 A.D.  Fear of the Saracens forced the brothers to abandon the place in favour of the relative safety of Rabat.  Initially with seven inmates, the monastery had to be enlarged twice in 1553 and 1717.  With its construction starting in 1666 the church was then consecrated by Bishop Labini on 12th May 1782.  Among its various benefactors were Baron Ciciano Testaferrata and Fra Gerolamo Albergotti, at that time Governor of Gozo.  As happened with the Franciscans, even the Augustinians had to face the Papal Brief of Innocent X regarding the requisition of their property.  They were reprieved through the intervention of Grandmaster Lascaris.  Of great value is the titular altarpiece belonging to Mattia Preti.  In 1836 the corpse of the martyred St. Dionisia was brought from Rome and placed beneath the third lateral altar.  In the monastery adjacent to the church there is an ancient painting which is held to have been removed from the Ramla church.  Restored during the rule of Grandmaster de Verdalle, the portrait shows St.Augustine kneeling in front of a crucifix surrounded by seven angels in the presence of Our Lady carrying the infant Jesus, likewise encircled by seven angels (Sempteni Guadiorum).  The church at Ramla was known as Ta’ Gajdoru.

St. Augustine’s Square is the home of the Don Bosco Oratory which untill 1965 was run by the Salesians.  This youth centre was built on the design of architect Luigi Portelli and inaugurated on 8th October 1949.  The complex boasts of a modern-style chapel, a cinema hall and theatre a playing field and classroom facilities for instruction, catechism and entertainment The great bronze plaque attached to the façade on the main door shows the founder, the zealous priest Rev. Pawl Micallef lifting his gaze at St.John Bosco while being mobbed by children.  Adjoining the Oratory are the headquarters of the Legion of Mary.

The site of the Oratory Don Bosco was a cemetery with at least ten chapels, the last of which survived up to 1953 when it was replaced by the children’s playing ground.  Most probably this burial ground hosted the remains of prominent people among whom French families whose tombstones were adorned with their coat of arms, chalices, crucifixes and mitres of which some are conserved at St. Augustine’s monastery and others at The National Museum.  It is assumed that some bishops who had participated in the last Crusade led by King Louis IX of France in 1270 were overtaken by an epidemic and lie buried in this graveyard.  Downhill, just beyond the crossroads leading to Ta’ Pinu Sanctuary is the recently instituted life-size bronze monument of the universally beloved Pope John Paul II who in 1990 had graced our shores

Exactly at the back of St. Augustine’s, the ridge nestles Lunzjata valley with its chapel dedicated to the Annunciation of Our Lady.  The century-old painting is the work of Fra Luca Garnier.  The present chapel was built in the 18th  century, although some parts of it had to be reconstructed after the Second World War.  Some caves opposite this chapel may have served as Christian catacombs.  The rector of the church Ercole Martino Testaferrata erected a public fountain a little further on from the chapel in 1698 during the rule of Grandmaster Ramon Perellos.

The valley is renowned for its charm and beauty with the all-year-round greenery of the watered fields under the constant care of the farmers.  Away from the chores and stress of city life, this place offers the burdened and the fatigued the exclusive relax and inner peace of nature.

Chev. Joe M.Attard
April 2007

Mgr. Dr. Joseph Bezzina
Mgr. Dr. Anton Gauci
Q. Hughes
Brian Blouet
Roger Parnis.