Tuesday, March 20, 2018
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• The Citadel

Is Located in the centre of Gozo, built on a prominent hilltop that overlooks all of Victoria and most of the surrounding countryside – and thus provides an excellent photo opportunity to its visitors.

This hilltop – as well as the rest of Victoria – has been settled since the Neolithic times roughly about 5,000 years ago. These people realised that the sheer sides that form three-quarters of this hill formed a very good defensive position since the only accessible side was easily defended. It is also thought that a Ggantija type of temple, as well as a village from that era also existed on top of this hill. Unfortunately, any remains that were on this hill have been largely eradicated by successive settlers and by the eventual fortification of this hilltop. Excavations carried out have confirmed that this site was certainly populated by people from the Bronze Age roughly 1,500 B.C.

The next people to colonise all Malta, as well as this hilltop were the Phoenicians approximately in 700 B.C. – and of these tangible evidence remains. It is thought that a temple dedicated to Astarte was erected on top of this hill and a village in the surrounding area which eventually became the town of Gwl (pronounced Gahwl) the same name by which the island was known in those days. Indeed an inscription dating from the third century B.C. calls for the restoration of four of the temples that were to be found in Gwl. Remains from the temple dedicated to Astarte that existed on top of this hill where the present Citadel now stands survive to this day. Recently a previously plastered wall - that forms part of the lower layer of the present Cathedral – had its plaster removed and since it consisted of largish stones an archaeologist from the nearby Museum of Archaeology was called in. This wall was deemed to date from the past and it is though that it could have formed part of this Phoenician temple of Astarte. Besides fortifying this hilltop, it is though that these people also fortified the town of Gwl (which today forms part of central Victoria).

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