“Gozo remained an utterly private place, an island in petto
- within the breast - and lucky the man who could find the key,
turn the lock, and vanish inside.”

                                                                                      ― Nicholas Monserrat

the island of GOZO

Gozo belongs to the Maltese archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea between Sicily and Tunisia. The island is part of the Southern European country of Malta; after the island of Malta itself, it is the second-largest island in the archipelago. Compared to its southeastern neighbour, Gozo is more rural and known for its scenic hills, which are featured on its coat of arms and where many movies have been filmed.

The island of Gozo has long been associated with Ogygia, the island home of the nymph Calypso in Homer's Odyssey. In that story, Calypso, possessed of great supernatural powers, and in love with Odysseus, holds him captive for a number of years, until finally releasing him to continue his journey home.

The island has a population of around 31,296 people, 7.7 % of the Maltese population (Malta has a population of 411,277 people), Gozo inhabitants are known as Gozitans (Maltese: Għawdxin). It is rich in historic locations such as the Ġgantija temples, which, along with the Megalithic Temples of Malta, are the world's oldest free-standing structures and are also among the world's oldest religious structures.

The island is rural in character and, compared to the main island Malta, less developed. Azure Window is a remarkable geologic feature of the island; it is a natural stone arch that was formed millions of years ago when a limestone cave collapsed. There are many beaches on the island, as well as seaside resorts that are popular with tourists and locals alike. The most popular are Marsalforn and Xlendi Bay. Gozo is considered one of the top technical diving destinations in the Mediterranean and a centre for water sports.

For such a small island, Gozo has a high concentration of churches (46 in all). The Xewkija Church has a capacity of 3,000, enough for the entire population of Xewkija village; its dome is larger than that of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. The church bells are rung daily for the canonical hours Matins, Lauds, Terce, Sext, None and vespers. The most famous church on the island is the National Shrine and Basilica of Santwarju tal-Madonna ta' Pinu.

Courtesy of Wikipedia with some corrections :-)

All photography provided by Audrey Cudel.