Citadel

Citadel

The old capital city of Gozo, the citadel or the cittadella,as referred to it by the Gozitans,  is situated at the heart of the island, two hundred meters above sea level, on one of the hills of the island. The Citadel is a fortified city were the earliest remains dates bck to the Bronze age period 2000b.c. Whoever ruled over the island of Gozo, had to live in a walled city, hence the considerable amount of archaeological remains which were unearthed during various excavations which some of these are still visible today. Inside the old gate of the Citadel, a re-used Roman stone honours the governor of Gozo, Rufus Valius and dates back to the 2nd century a.d.

During the medieval period, the Citadel, was ransacked many times by new settlers and pirates. In 1551, Dragut of the Ottoman Empire, on his way to Tripoli, landed in Gozo, attacked the Citadel and took close to 6000 Gozitans, who took refuge in the city, as slaves. The attack left the Citadel in ruins and the Knights of St John re-built the city.

Fifteen years after, in 1565, the citadel was not attacked during the Great Siege. It served as a communication link between the Grand Harbour of Malta and Sicliy.

During the French occupation, in 1798, after just three months, the Gozitans, rebelled against the French and were expelled from the Citadel and the island. A provisional government was set up and the island was ruled as an independent state, ‘La Nostra Gozitana’

Today, the population of the Citadel is only six people. The main cathedral, rebuilt after the earthquake of 1693, is dedicated to Santa Maria, dominates the whole city’s skyline. Through the narrow winding streets one could still see medieval remains but most of the northern side is in ruins.

The Citadel was totally restored and an audio visual which gives an introduction to the city is situated in the former moat of the city.