Exploring Victoria: A Medieval Town in the Heart of Gozo

Victoria Gozo - The Cathedral of the Assumption in Citadel

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Victoria is a medieval town in the heart of Gozo. It bustles with life on an island that’s mostly calm and serene. Imagine walking down cobbled streets. At the end of quaint alleys, you find lively squares with beautiful churches.

I’ve been calling Malta my home since 2011 and make frequent trips to Gozo. It’s just a quick 30-minute ferry ride away. I know this place very well and I have all the insider tips to make your trip to Victoria unforgettable.

What I love most about Victoria is its rich mix of culture, history, and great food. It’s a town begging to be explored. It’s filled with hidden corners that always leave me amazed.

You will have a great time in Victoria. It doesn’t matter if you love history or if you just want to experience the local culture.

Historical Timeline of Victoria, Gozo

Neolithic Period: People have lived in the area where Victoria is now located since ancient times. The early residents chose this spot because it was high up, which made it safe and gave them a good view of the surrounding areas.

Bronze Age, c. 1500 BC: The Citadel starts as a fortified area. It is built with initial fortifications, beginning its long history as a central stronghold on the island.

Phoenician Period: The Phoenicians, who were skilled sailors, developed the area more. They improve the Citadel and make it a key hub in their trade network.

Roman Times: The Citadel changes under Roman influence. It becomes a complex Acropolis, a seat of power and prestige. 

1551 Ottoman Invasion: The Ottoman Empire invaded Gozo. Most of the people living there were captured and enslaved.

1599-1603: The Knights of St. John rebuild the south flank of the Citadel. The goal is to strengthen the island’s defences and prepare for increasing threats by the Ottoman Empire.

17th Century: The Baroque Cathedral was constructed in the Citadel. This cathedral is located on the site of a former Roman temple.

1887: Victoria is named on June 10th to honour Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee. This renaming shows the British influence on the Maltese Islands.

21st Century: Victoria remains a mix of history and modern growth. It shows the influence of many cultures over thousands of years.

Things to See in Victoria

Victoria Attractions Map

Here’s a map of the main attractions. Click on the pins to see the attractions and their locations.

Visit The Citadel, a Historic Gem in the Heart of Victoria

The Citadel is a fortress in Malta that you must see. It is also known as Cittadella or Castello.

The View of the Cathedral Seen while Walking around the Citadel in Victoria, Gozo
The View of the Cathedral Seen while Walking around the Citadel in Victoria, Gozo

Victoria’s history is closely linked to the Citadel. The town was located within the fortifications. Only in the 15th century, the suburb of Rabat started to develop on the site of the fortified town. 

The Citadel’s history dates back to the Bronze Age. During the Punic-Roman period, it was an acropolis. Over time, it became a fortified castle. In 1551, Ottoman forces invaded and destroyed the Citadel.

Throughout the years, different eras have left their mark on the fortress. Today, the Citadel represents Gozo’s enduring spirit. It is a reminder of its turbulent past and a popular attraction for people all over the world.

The Citadel was recently restored and now, it’s a popular tourist attraction. There are museums, churches, and lots of cultural things to see. It’s also a great place for photographers. You can see the countryside of Gozo, Malta, and Comino islands from there. The view is especially stunning at sunset.

You can visit the Citadel anytime. Admission is free.

I recommend visiting museums too. You can use one ticket to visit the Citadel Visitor Centre, Gozo Museum of Archaeology, Gran Castello Historic House, Gozo Nature Museum, and the Old Prison. The ticket costs €5 for adults and is valid from 9 am to 5 pm every day.

Cittadel’s Visitors’ Centre: Learn more about the Cittadella’s history.

Gozo Museum of Archaeology: Explore Gozo’s ancient history with a collection of artefacts. 

Gozo Nature Museum: Explore Gozo’s natural world, including marine life and national plants.

Gran Castello Historic House: See how people in Malta used to live. This place is full of artefacts showing old customs and crafts.

Old Prison: Explore a historic prison with two parts – an open cell and six solitary cells. Check out the carvings on the walls, like handprints and games.

The Cathedral of the Assumption: This cathedral has a remarkable flat-painted dome that looks three-dimensional.

Cathedral Museum: If you enjoy art and religious artefacts, this is the place for you.

The Cathedral of the Assumption in Victoria, Gozo
The Cathedral of the Assumption in Victoria, Gozo

Wander Victoria’s Streets

After you explore the Citadel, go and visit Victoria. Its second name “Rabat” comes from the Arabic word for ‘suburb’ or ‘outskirts’. Historically, Rabat was the suburban area outside the Citadel.

Walking and exploring the medieval streets of Victoria is worth it. You’ll wander through narrow lanes. The lanes are lined with golden limestone buildings. Each building is decorated with colourful doors. Balconies overflow with plants. The streets are so picturesque. You’ll take many beautiful photos.

Charming Streets in Victoria, Gozo
Charming Streets in Victoria, Gozo

Visit St. George’s Basilica

St. George’s Basilica is located in the busy streets of Victoria. The building is marvellous. It captivates visitors with its stunning interior.

St. George's Basilica in Victoria, Gozo
St. George’s Basilica in Victoria, Gozo

This church is for prayer, appreciating art, and architecture. You should visit the church if you like baroque-style art. Its beauty is like the grandest cathedrals.

You don’t have to book or wait. You can freely explore the church when it’s open. Please dress modestly when you enter to show respect for the sacred space. You can take photos, but remember to turn off the flash.

For a small fee, you can go up to the third level to see the bell tower. The view from above is worth a visit.

Relax in St. George’s Square

The square outside St. George’s Basilica buzzes with life.

The square has a few cafes and restaurants. They let you relax and experience the local atmosphere. 

I love spending some time there on weekends. I drink coffee and watch the world go by in one of the most laid-back spots in Gozo.

One of my go-to spots is Manouche. Their coffee can make your day. They also serve delicious pastries and cakes. 

If you want something more filling, you can go to Roża restaurant. They serve local Gozo flavours that you’ll love. Have you ever tried goat cheese or rabbit stew? If not, you should try them here. I’ve had lunch there a few times, and the food is always amazing.

Visit Independence Square

Independence Square is a busy place with cafes and shops. The locals call it It-Tokk. The Banca Giuratale stands watch over the square. It is a grand building that has seen centuries come and go. The building was built between 1733 and 1738. Now, it houses the local council.

Independence Square in Victoria, Gozo
Independence Square in Victoria, Gozo

Every morning, It-Tokk becomes an open-air market. It is lively and bustling. You can find fresh fruits, veggies, souvenirs, clothes, fabrics, and household items. The market has become popular with tourists. Yet, it still retains its traditional charm and gives you a glimpse into local life.

There is a choir in the square. It is not made up of people, but of small, loud birds that live in the trees. They sing during sunrise and sunset. Their singing fills the air, which is both beautiful and a bit overwhelming.

Explore Villa Rundle Gardens

Villa Rundle Gardens in Victoria is a small park in the city. It has green paths and colourful flowers.  Whenever I’m in Gozo, I always go there. The local atmosphere is unique and lively. Children are playing, cats are relaxing in the sun, and bees are buzzing between flowers. And you can bring your dog, just remember to keep them on a leash.

The gardens change with the seasons. During Christmas and Valentine’s Day, the garden looks its best. Full of lights and decorations.

Is Victoria the Right Base for Your Malta Holiday?

Choosing Victoria as your home base in Gozo could be the best choice for your vacation. You can wake up in a centuries-old house or a palazzo. Click here for the best deals.

Also, there are many restaurants, cafes, and bars to choose from for dining and relaxing. So, you will never get bored.

If you don’t plan to rent a car, Victoria is the best place to stay. It’s the transport main hub of Gozo, where all transportation connections come together. Buses in Victoria can take you to every part of the island quickly, so it’s very convenient to jump on and explore.

Gozo’s not a party island. Victoria does not offer much nightlife. It is a calm town, but it is more vibrant than other towns on the island.

Remember, Victoria is not located by the beach. You will need to drive for about 15 to 20 minutes to get to the beach. But this is true for all towns in Gozo, as none of them are on the beach.

If you want to see the ocean from your window, consider towns like Marsalforn or Xlendi. These towns might not be as conveniently located, but the sound of the sea could make up for it.

Victoria has charm, convenience, and a true Gozo feel. So think about what you want from your holiday and choose what feels right for you.

Wrap-Up: Victoria, Gozo

Victoria in Gozo is a charming town, so make sure you visit it. Also, remember that Victoria is centrally located. This means you are always close to all the wonderful things the island has to offer. The transportation links are efficient, so you are never too far from Gozo’s best sights.

To learn more about this incredible island, read my detailed guide to Gozo. It has many wonderful places to visit. If you enjoy being in nature, take a look at my guide to Gozo coastal hikes.

There are also many activities to do in Gozo. You can join a jeep safari or quad tour. Make sure you meet the adorable alpacas—they are so cute and it’s a lot of fun!

Gozo will definitely surprise you. Happy travelling!

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