Victoria, also known as Rabat or by its title Città Victoria is the capital of Gozo, an island of the Maltese archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea. The town has a total population of 6,911 (March 2013), and by population is the largest locality in Gozo.
The area around the town, situated on a hill near the centre of the island, has been settled since Neolithic times. Victoria is the name given 10 June 1887 by the British government on the occasion of Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee, at the request of the Bishop of Malta, Mons. Sir Pietro Pace. However many Gozitans still often refer to it by the name Rabat. It is usually known as Ir-Rabat Għawdex to distinguish it from the town of Rabat on the island of Malta.
The Citadel (Gozo)
In the heart of Victoria lies the Citadella (Citadel), formerly known as il Castello, which has been the centre of activity of the island since possibly Neolithic times, but is known to be first fortified during the Bronze Age c. 1500 BC. It was later developed by the Phoenicians and continued into becoming a complex Acropolis by Roman times.
The north side of the Citadel dates back to the Aragonese domination period. The south flank, overlooking Victoria, was re-constructed under the Knights of St. John, namely between 1599 and 1603, after Ottomans invaded the city in 1551. The massive defensive stone walls of the fortifications rise above the town and were built by the Knights to protect the village communities from foraging corsairs attempting to take slaves and threatened invasion of Moslem forces fighting Christendom.
Within its walls lies a fine 17th century baroque Cathedral designed by Lorenzo Gafà, the Maltese architect who also built the Cathedral of Mdina. It is said that it lies on the site where a Roman temple dedicated to Juno once stood. It is most famous for the remarkable trompe l'oeil painting on its ceiling, which depicts the interior of a dome that was never built.
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