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Xewkija

Xewkija, which is situated between G─žajnsielem and the capital town, Victoria, is the oldest village in Gozo. It became the first parish outside Victoria on 27 November 1678. It was separated from the Matrix by Bishop Glormu Molina and Dun Grezz Farrugia from Valletta, became its first parish priest. It became the first district ‘contrada’ to be known as ‘casale’ or village.

The name is derived from the Maltese word “Xewk”, meaning “thistles” or “thorns”. Xewkija is famous for its church, The Rotunda, which is dedicated to St. John the Baptist. It is the Seat of the Knights of the Order of St. John, and was built from Maltese stone by local masons and craftsmen. It is the largest in Gozo and its dome dominates the village. Its architect was Joseph D’Amato. It replaced an older church.

On the site where the present church is, it was said that there was a stone known as ‘Maqghad ix-Xih’. Near it there is a small ancient chapel known as Madonna tal-Hniena (Our Lady of Charity) which was dedicated to San Bartilimew. The tower of Santa Cecilja had been in the limits of Xewkija. There is another tower with the oldest sundial in Xewkija. Remains of Tinghi Tower disappeared in the last century. These towers date back to 1613. A 14th century tower used by the Grandmasters as a summer residence, the Tower of Gorgion, was demolished during the Second World War to make way for a temporary airport.

A marble slab of Majmuna with an Arabic inscription dating back to 1173 was found in Xewkija. It commemorates the death of an Arab girl named Sarah, who died in Xewkija. The inscription is carved in a thick marble slab, on the underside of which there is a pagan symbol. Brother Gabrijel D’Alappo translated it into Italian and it was later translated into Maltese. It was sent to the Public Library in Malta in 1845 and brought to the Gozo National Museum in 1960. The rising population in Xewkija needed more building sites for houses and housing estates have been developed at Tal-Barmil, Ta’ Gokk and Tal-Hamrija. When one enters the village from the main road one sees the remains of a mill erected in the times of Grand Master Perellos. This is unique mill in Gozo because it has points which show the eight principal wind directions.

At Misrah Imbert one can see the cart ruts, coming from Borg Gharib, Mgarr ix-Xini, Ta’ Cenc and Tas-Salvatur.

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