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Victoria/Rabat

Victoria/Rabat

The capital of Gozo is Victoria or Rabat as it is often referred to by the locals.  This is in the centre of the island.  The oldest part of Victoria is the Citadel.  There has been a fortification here at least as far back as the bronze age.  Both the Phoenicians and Romans built here (a Roman temple to Juno was found when the cathedral was being built.)  The fortifications themselves are very well preserved and can be divided into two: a northern 15th century curtain wall built by the Aragonese and a series of renaissance bastions from the time of the Knights of St John.  The strength of the fortifications can be understood by knowledge of the events of 1551, where virtually the entire population of Gozo was captured and enslaved by corsairs led by Sinam Pasha and Dragut Reis.  Until 1637 the entire population of Gozo used to spend the night in the Citadel, and the Turkish attacks only ceased in 1708.  

Inside the Citadel is the Cathedral.  This was built between 1697 and 1711 on the site of a church which was damaged in the attack of 1551.  As you enter the cathedral look up at the dome curving above you.  The observant amongst you might be somewhat surprised: outside there is no dome!  The trompe l'oeil was painted in 1739 by the Sicilian artist Antonio Pippi.