Information

Information on Gozo, Malta’s sister island.

Walking Tours

The first rain after the long, hot summer brings the landscape to life with an astonishing variety of wild flowers.

From mid-November until mid-May or so, you’ll find the Islands green and lush. Fields are full of vegetables and waysides are carpeted with fennel, clover, wild iris, myrtle and much more. By late spring, a thousand or more species of plants will be in flower.

Away from the resorts and urban areas of central Malta, there is a surprising amount of countryside, some left almost untouched by modernity. You may be surprised to learn that only around one-fifth of the Maltese Islands is urbanised. Farmers often use traditional labour-intensive methods of the past. Village life still centres on the agricultural and fishing seasons.

Today, as in past times, you will still see old men and women, sometimes with their extended families, working the fields. In the north of Malta, where the ground is barren, and in many parts of Gozo, you’ll come across small flocks of shaggy-coated goats and sheep being herded along the wayside.

The Islands offer walkers some of the most stunning views anywhere in the Mediterranean. The first thing to do is to decide what sort of view you prefer – dramatic cliffs plunging into waves, the rocky, scrubland of the garrigue or hidden, lush valleys. En route, you’ll come across mysterious, prehistoric sites, cave chapels and secluded palaces of the Knights.

In Malta, areas that make excellent day hikes, are Mellieħa, Dingli, Għar Lapsi, Fawwara, Wardija, all the North and the various bays, and the southern coast with its fishing villages and Delimara Point.

Gozo in its entirety is excellent walking country. Ta’ Dbieġi, near San Lawrenz, the Ġordan Lighthouse near Għasri, Ħondoq ir-Rummien near Qala and San Blas Valley near Nadur are all excellent walking areas. The Island is criss-crossed by tracks and lanes. The possibilities are endless.

Don’t miss tiny Comino, ideal for a good day’s hiking and the ultimate in solitude and views.

Put on walking boots, hire a mountain bike and head out from the village squares on the narrow farmers’ tracks. You’ll find yourself in a timeless landscape, quite alone even in peak season. There is plenty to discover, from ancient farmhouses and wayside chapels to spectacular seascapes. It is well worth the effort!

Wedding in Gozo

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Ta Pinu Shrine

The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Blessed Virgin of Ta’ Pinu (Maltese: Santwarju Bażilika tal-Madonna ta’ Pinu) is a Roman Catholic minor basilica and national shrine located some 700 metres (2,300 ft) from the village of Għarb on the island of Gozo, the sister island of Malta. The church is dedicated to the Blessed Virgin of Ta’ Pinu. The basilica is located in open countryside which allows visitors to enjoy beautiful views of the area and is of great national importance to Gozitans everywhere.


The origins of the Shrine of Our Lady of ta’ Pinu are unknown. It was first recorded in the archives of the Curia in Gozo, when the Bishop Domenico Cubelles paid a visit to the chapel. This noted that the chapel had just been rebuilt and that it belonged to the noble family of “The Gentile”.

In 1575 the apostolic visitor Pietro Duzina was delegated by Pope Gregory XIII to visit the Maltese Islands. In his pastoral visit to the church, he found that it was in a very bad state. He ordered the church to be closed and demolished and its duties passed to the parish church, now the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Gozo. When demolition began the workman broke his arm while striking the first blow. This was taken as an omen that the chapel should not be demolished. The church was the only chapel on the island to survive Duzina’s decree ordering the demolition of other similar chapels.

Pinu Gauci became the procurator of the church in 1598 and its name was changed from “Of the Gentile” to “Ta` Pinu”, meaning “Of Philip”. In 1611 Gauci offered money for its restoration. It was rebuilt, with a stone altar erected and investments for liturgical services provided. Gauci also commissioned the painting of the Assumption of Our Lady for the main altar. This was done in 1619 by Amadeo Perugino.

In 1883, Karmni Grima was walking past the now run down church and heard a voice asking her to recite three Hail Marys’. Over the following years miracles were attributed to the grace of Our Lady of The Assumption to whom the church was dedicated. Francis Portelli also heard the voice coming from the painting. Francis Merċieċa also known as Frenċ tal-Għarb was a devout of Our Lady of ta’ Pinu and healed a lot of people in her name.
Some of the ex-voto in the Ta’ Pinu church.

The works for the new church began on 30 May 1922 on the initiative of the church’s rector Monsignor Ġużepp Portelli and was consecrated on 31 August 1932. It was built in a neo-romantic style. Inside the church there are 6 mosaics, 76 coloured windows and many ex-voto. The bell tower is 61 metres high.

Pope John Paul II celebrated mass on the parvise of the shrine during his visit to the island of Gozo on 26 May 1990. On 18 April 2010, when visiting Malta, Pope Benedict XVI donated and placed a Golden Rose in front of the devotional image of Our Lady Of Ta’ Pinu which was brought over from Gozo to Malta for this special occasion. The Pope invited everybody to “Pray to Her Under the Title Queen of the Family”

The church building is listed on the National Inventory of the Cultural Property of the Maltese Islands.

Ġgantija Temples on Gozo Malta

Ġgantija “Giants’ Tower” is a megalithic temple complex from the Neolithic on the Mediterranean island of Gozo. The Ġgantija temples are the earliest of the Megalithic Temples of Malta. The Ġgantija temples are older than the pyramids of Egypt. Their makers erected the two Ġgantija temples during the Neolithic (c. 3600–2500 BC), which makes these temples more than 5500 years old and the world’s second oldest existing manmade religious structures after Göbekli Tepe. Together with other similar structures, these have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Megalithic Temples of Malta.

The temples are elements of a ceremonial site in a fertility rite. Researchers have the numerous figurines and statues found on site associated with that cult. According to local Gozitan folklore, a giantess who ate nothing but broad beans and honey bore a child from a man of the common people. With the child hanging from her shoulder, she built these temples and used them as places of worship.

Description and design

The Ġgantija temples stand at the end of the Xagħra plateau, facing towards the south-east.

This megalithic monument encompasses in fact two temples and an incomplete third, of which only the facade was partially built before being abandoned. Like Mnajdra South it faces the equinox sunrise, built side by side and enclosed within a boundary wall. The southerly one is the larger and older one, dating back to approximately 3600 BC. It is also better preserved. The plan of the temple incorporates five large apses, with traces of the plaster that once covered the irregular wall still clinging between the blocks.

The temples are built in the typical clover-leaf shape, with inner facing blocks marking the shape which was then filled in with rubble. This led to the construction of a series of semi-circular apses connected with a central passage. Archaeologists assume that the apses were originally covered by roofing.

The effort is a remarkable feat when considering the monuments were constructed when the wheel had not yet been introduced and no metal tools were available to the Maltese Islanders. Small, spherical stones have been discovered. They are associated to the use as ball bearings for the transport vehicles of the enormous stone blocks used for the temples.

The temple, like other megalithic sites in Malta, faces southeast. The southern temple rises to a height of 6 m (19.69 ft). At the entrance sits a large stone block with a recess, which led to the hypothesis that this was a ritual ablution station for purification before entering the complex. The five apses contain various altars; the finding of animal bones in the site suggests the site was used for animal sacrifice.
Excavations and recognition
Engraving of the temple made in 1848

Residents and travelers knew about the existence of the temple for a long time. In the late 18th-century, before any excavations were carried out, Jean-Pierre Houël drew a mostly correct plan based on that knowledge. In 1827, Col. John Otto Bayer, the Lieutenant Governor of Gozo, had the site cleared of debris. The soil and remains were thus lost without having been properly examined. However the German artist Brochtorff had painted a picture of the site within a year or two prior to removal of the debris, so there was a record of the site before clearance.

After the excavations in 1827, the ruins fell into decay. The remains were included on the Antiquities List of 1925. The land was held privately until 1933, when the Government expropriated it for public benefit. The Museums Department conducted extensive archaeological work in 1933, 1936, 1949, 1956–57 and 1958–59. Its goal was to clear, preserve and research the ruins and their surroundings.

The Ġgantija temples were listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980. In 1992, the Committee decided to expand the listing to include five other megalithic temples situated across the islands of Malta and Gozo. The Ġgantija listing was renamed “the Megalithic Temples of Malta”

The temple and the surrounding areas were restored or rehabilitated in the 2000s. Lightweight walkways were installed in the temple in 2011, while a heritage park was opened in 2013.