Be dazzled by the unique arts and crafts of Gozo
Published on 06/09/2017 by Baron Holiday Homes
One of the many unique aspects of Gozo is the way that its rich and varied history has influenced everything from language, food and architecture to the many traditional arts and crafts which are still practised today.
Gozo’s artisan skills developed from necessity – living on an isolated island meant that to survive, you had to make everything yourself. And these skills have been passed down through the generations. VisitGozo has produced a useful online guide to Gozo’s arts and crafts here.
You can see the evidence of such skills everywhere on Gozo – from stone carvings on churches and houses, to intricate handmade lace and silver filigree jewellery, and even to the colourful traditional fishing boats found along the coast.
Go back in time at the Gran Castello Historic House
One of the many interesting places to visit in The Citadel in Gozo’s capital, Victoria, is the folklore museum at Gran Castello Historic House.
Located in Bernardo DeOpuo Street, the museum comprises a series of interconnected houses dating back to the early 16th century. As you move through the many exhibits you can get a real sense of what life was like on Gozo through the ages and the importance of local crafts and skills to Gozitans.
Gharb Folklore Museum
Another museum providing a glimpse of the traditional trades, crafts and hobbies of Gozo can be found at the Gharb Folklore Museum. This early-18th-century village house contains 28 rooms full of historic objects and aims to provide a glimpse of the past on Gozo.
Ta’ Dbiegi Crafts Village
If you enjoy watching skilled craftsmen and women at work then a visit to the Ta’ Dbiegi Crafts Village, also in Gharb, is a must. The crafts village is a vital part of the effort to preserve traditional Gozitan skills.
Here, a collection of artisans practise their skills in workshops. There are glass blowers, weavers, makers of leather goods, silver filigree jewellers, lace makers, potters, and more. You can also purchase a wide range of artisan-made craft items and refreshments are available at the cafe and restaurant on site.
Traditions kept alive in present-day Gozo
One of the most interesting ways of discovering the arts and crafts of Gozo is to simply wander through the narrow alleyways of Victoria and the island’s many villages. If you’re lucky you will find women sitting in the shade making intricate lace in the ancient way with bobbins.
Handmade Gozo lace is still prized today both by local people as well as to visitors to the island. Traditionally, each village on Gozo has its own unique lace design and women would pass down their patterns to their daughters. And today, lace is still woven by women in the old, time-consuming way – with many bobbins of finely spun local wool or linen on a tubular pillow.
In Victoria, you can see lace-maker Maria Mizzi at work at The Bastion Lace Shop where she continues a family tradition that was passed down to her from her great, great aunt.
Gozo fishing boats have eyes…
Any visitor to the Maltese islands will be struck by the sight of the unique fishing boats called Luzzus. These are sturdy boats with a design dating back to the time of the Phoenicians. In the past Luzzus would have had sails but these days, they are powered by diesel engines.
Painted in bright shades of red, yellow, blue and green, Luzzus make a wonderful sight bobbing on the harbour waters at Mġarr amd Marsalforn. As well as their distinctive colours, these traditional boats always have a pair of eyes (eyes of Horus) painted on the bow – thought to be an ancient custom practised by the Phoenicians, Ancient Greeks, and Egyptians to protect fishermen while out at sea.
Another distinctive type of ancient boat – the Dgħajsa tal-Latini – used to ferry people from Malta to Gozo. You can see the very last surviving example in the harbour at Mġarr.
And, finally – another unique tradition on Gozo is the island’s distinct cuisine. But that’s another story which is told in our blog post Our Guide to a Gozo Taste Experience.
Ask us for help
Baron Holiday Homes is happy to organise car hire, tours of Gozo, and special activities for our guests. Just get in touch and we’ll tell you all you need to know about walks near to your rental property, special events in villages nearby, and other local information.