Gozo
Big and proud: Xewkija's Rotunda is quite the sight!
Wowza!

Kristina Cassar Dowling

Xewkija is probably the oldest village in Gozo and its charm is something that can impress even the grouchiest. Xewkija is pretty close to Mgarr Harbour and the capital of Victoria, making it quite the ideal spot for a weekend trip or a second home on the greener island.

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The most iconic part of the village is the Rotunda that stands tall in the centre of the village. The church itself is not as ancient as you may think, so looks may be deceiving! The church was erected in the early 1970s, built in the classic style, but the site on which it lies hold sacred significance dating back to prehistoric times. In 1647, a megalithic temple was discovered on the spot where the church would lie. Reverence to the goddess of fertility was traded in for honour towards St John the Baptist. 

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The Xewkija Rotunda is pretty iconic in Gozo. Even though the Ta’ Pinu Sanctuary gets a lot of foot traffic, this Xewkija beauty deserves the same. Its historical worth is also quite notable: after the turmoil of WW2, there was need for a place of worship in the area since the population in Xewkija began to grow by 100 people per year and their tiny church was not serving its purpose. 

The seafaring parishioners were devoted to their faith and their man-power is basically what made the Xewkija Rotunda come to life. The community came together, donating their time, money and jewels to the creation of the Rotunda, in a period where locals were living on bare minimum due to the effects of war. But, they prevailed for the good of the parish.  

The Rotunda that stands today is a symbol of the devotion shared by 3,000 Xewkija residents - and what a sight it is. The dome covers 27 meters in width, 75 metres in height and carries a weight of 45,000 tonnes.

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When visiting this Rotunda, make sure to take a look at the Sculpture Museum where intricate lacework, old Maltese stone and other gems can be found. And of course, don’t forget to look up in awe of the geometrically flawless dome designed by Guzepp Vella. A sight that is often overlooked by many a local can become the highlight of your day almost instantly. It’s love at first sight! You’ll even be able to give the Rotunda a final salute as you journey back to the mainland.

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Have you been to Xewkija? 

26th December 2020


Kristina Cassar Dowling
Written by
Kristina Cassar Dowling
A local writer in love with the Maltese islands, Kristina is a hunter for all things cultural both in Malta and outside its shores. A curious foodie, music fanatic, art lover and keen traveller with an open mind and a passion for writing.

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