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Xaghra

Ix-Xaghra (pronounced: shara) is built on a hill to the central north-east of the island of Gozo. It lies just under four kilometres from Rabat, the town of the island, and is aptly described as the village of the goddess and the Madonna. Ix – Xaghra was one of the earliest inhabited areas of Gozo.

The most famous prehistoric site of the Maltese archipelago are the Ggantija Temples of ix-Xaghra from the third millennium BC. It was the first of the Maltese prehistoric monuments to be cleared of earth and debris and the operation was undertaken by Lieutenant-Colonel John Otto-Bayer, at his own expense, when he was the Chief Civil Officer of Gozo (1819-1826). Lying on the south eastern slope of the village over looking ir-Ramla valley, the complex consists of two temple units enclosed by a single outer wall. The Temples are separate and each has a single entrance on a common façade in front of which there is a very extensive plaza. They are built of massive stones quarried on the spot and on a five-apse plan — the plan refers to the goddess, that is the head, the shoulders and arms, and the legs folded beneath the thighs.

L-Ghar ta’ Kalipso or Calypso Cave, overlooking the fantastic sandy bay of Ir-Ramla, is the legendary quarters if the nymph Calypso. According to the Odyssey, an ancient Greek poem attributed to Homer who flourished in the ninth century BC, when Ulysses was returning from Troy to Ithaca after the Trojan war, he was shipwrecked on Ogygia, the island of Calypso. The shipwreck occurred after Ulysses and his companions left the Island of the Sun or Sicily and drifted southwards from the Straits of Messina for nine days. As the island closest to Sicily in that direction is Gozo, Ogygia is identified with Gozo. For centuries this cave at ix-Xaghra has been pointed out as the abode of the nymph who succeeded in bewitching Ulysses and in keeping him on her island for seven whole years.Fact or fiction, one thing is certain: the beautiful views of the fertile Wied ir-Ramla that stretches below the cave and flows onto the bay certainly bewitches thousands on this day. There is hardly anything to see inside the cave.

Situated half way between Ggantija Temples and the village square and visible far and wide, il-Mithna ta’ Kola or Kola’s Windmill is a typical Gozo windmill, of which there were at least fourteen. Built in 1725, it is still in a dirking condition. Designed on the same plan of contemporary mills, it consists of a quadrangular building erected round and incorporating a circular tower about fifteen metres high and three metres in diameter. During the grim years of the bond World War when the Axis blockaded Malta, this windmill was put into good use saving many people from starvation. It has defied the march of times and the substitution of wind power by steam and electricity and still stands as a monument to the hard working millers of past and recent times. Its last miller was a certain Guzepp Grech, who died at the age of eighty seven in 1987. After his demise, the place was restored and a folklore museum, set up in the miller’s rooms, was inaugurated on 6 September 1992.

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